Amid rising COVID-19 cases in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to waive all forms of taxes and customs duty on equipment and drugs being used to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Banerjee also urged Modi to strengthen health infrastructure and augment supplies of equipment, medicines, and oxygen for the treatment of coronavirus-positive patients.
“I am writing to you regarding a critical issue on facilitating' augmentation of medical system including infrastructure, equipment, medicine and oxygen, necessitated due to sudden spike in the number of COVID cases in the country in general and also in West Bengal,” she said.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said that a large number of organizations and individuals have come forward to donate oxygen concentrators, cylinders, containers and COVID-related drugs. Mamata Banerjee urged PM Modi to waive all forms of taxes and customs duty from these items
"A large number of organisations, individuals and benevolent agencies have come forward to donate oxygen concentrators, cylinders, containers and COVID-related drugs. Donations from these organizations will greatly supplement the efforts of the State Government in meeting the huge gap in demand and supply. Many of the donors have approached the state government to consider exemption of these from customs duty, SGST, CGST, IGST," she said in the letter.
"As the rate structure falls under the purview of the central government, I would request that these items may be exempted from GST/customs duty and other such duties and taxes to help remove supply constraints of the above-mentioned life-saving drugs and equipment and contribute towards effective management of the COVID pandemic," Banerjee said.
Mamata Banerjee has been attacking the Centre for "failing" to control the spread of the disease in the country.
Earlier on Friday, Mamata Banerjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an increase in the allocation of medical oxygen.
She urged the Centre to supply additional medical oxygen as the demand is going up in the state due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The Chief Minister requested the Prime Minister to issue instructions for an immediate allocation of at least 550 MT per medical oxygen for the state.
"Considering the critical situation, I would request you to kindly have the allocation of MO reviewed and instruction issued for an immediate allocation of at least 550 MT per day of MO preferably out of the total produced MO in West Bengal," she wrote in her letter.
The CM also said that the allocation for West Bengal has been fixed at 308 MT whereas the state now requires 550 MT of medical oxygen every day. "Any allocation of MO less than the requested amount, will not only adversely affect the supply of medical oxygen but may also result in loss of lives of patients in the state," the West Bengal Chief Minister had said in her letter.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)