Relief on Covid drug imports continues


India has extended the exemption period for unrestricted imports of essential Covid medical supplies from China and other countries with which it shares land borders until October 31, as a measure to anticipate a third wave of the pandemic, two officials familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The Union’s finance ministry on Wednesday issued an official order to central ministries and state governments in this regard, they said, on condition of anonymity.

On July 23 of last year, all government agencies were banned from sourcing goods and services from border countries such as China and Pakistan on national security grounds. The ordinance, however, exempted certain “special cases” such as the purchase of essential Covid medical supplies until December 31, 2020.

Referring to the exemption provisions of the decree on public procurement of July 23, 2020, the Ministry of Finance declared on June 9, 2021: “It was decided to extend paragraph (A) of the above specific cases until ‘on 31.10.2021. Paragraph (A) of last year’s ordinance (July 23) read: “Until December 31, 2020, the purchase of medical supplies directly related to the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic will be exempt from provisions of this Ordinance. HT reviewed copies of both orders.

It is not clear, however, whether this exemption was suspended or withdrawn for approximately six months between December 31, 2020 and June 9, 2021. “Imports of medical supplies directly related to the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic n ‘were not hindered during this period. and as soon as the issue of the deadline was raised, the deadline was extended, ”said a second official.

The ministries of finance and trade did not respond to an email question on this matter.

However, the government continues to strictly enforce its public procurement policy announced on July 23, 2020, which prohibits the award of any project to contractors from countries sharing land borders with India without prior registration with a competent authority and security clearance from the Ministry of the Interior. Foreign Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of the Interior (MHA).

Nilaya Varma, co-founder and CEO of Primus Partners, said: “As India strives for self-reliance, the focus has been on reducing imports. But as we work to strengthen the domestic manufacturing ecosystem, there would be a lag in building capacity. To manage this period, especially in the midst of the pandemic, it was essential to ensure that the supply of supplies directly related to the containment of the pandemic ran smoothly. “


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