The Union government in a shocking move has withdrawn customs duty exemption on the imports of around 74 essential drugs. The fact that the exemption list includes many life saving medicines used in treatment of serious medical conditions, has raised concern among the public.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) last week issued a notification withdrawing exemption of levy of basic customs duty on as many as 74 drugs. The move will see sharp rise in price of drugs used for treating kidney stones, cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy, life-threatening heart rhythm disorders, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, bone diseases, antibiotic to treat infections.
Besides, drugs used for bacterial infections, leukemia, anesthetic medication, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B virus cells, allergies, arthritis, lupus and ulcerative colitis might also see spurt in prices. Drugs used in blood dilating medicine or for treating menopause, glaucoma, anogenital warts, poisoning by a chemical or pesticide, growth failure in children and adults who lack natural growth hormone would also attract customs duty.
“The withdrawal of exemption from basic customs duty for certain drugs and medicines including life-saving drugs are intended to provide protection to the domestic manufacturing industry and enhance the attractiveness of make in India initiative,” KPMG India Partner and Head of Indirect Tax Sachin Menon said.
“An increase has also been made in the customs duty rates of certain life saving drugs such as abciximab, anti-rabies immunoglobin, FSH, procarbazine and saquinavir to 35 per cent,” Deloitte in India Senior Director MS Mani said.
These changes signify the intention of the government to promote domestic manufacture of these items as imports would now become more expensive, Mani said.