The customs authority is set to waive all the taxes on import of safety kits and its raw materials to expedite import of those materials amid the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.
The items include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), raw materials of hand sanitizers, coronavirus testing kits, surgical masks and disinfectants used to spray to sterilize the virus and reagents.
Senior customs officials said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) would issue a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) on Sunday by exempting the entire duty on those materials.
They, however, said import of reagents by Gonoshasthya Kendra has not been included in the tax exemption list as it is yet to get the government's clearances.
Gonoshasthya applied to the Directorate General of Drug Administration for getting approval to produce test kit for coronavirus.
A total of 17 items will get tax exemptions through the SRO.
Officials said the NBR offered the waiver in a bid to reduce import costs and help boost local production of those safety kits.
In Bangladesh, 24 people have already tested positive for the highly contagious virus-COVID-19 that also claimed two lives here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) already declared the situation pandemic as the deadly virus spread in 186 countries across the globe.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, commoners rushed on buying safety kits, causing a scarcity of those items in the local market.
Many hospitals and doctors have complained that there is a lack of PPE such as gowns, surgical masks, surgical goggles, hand sanitizers and other equipment to attend patients having coronavirus symptoms.
Many medicine shops, including Laz Pharma (Ramna branch), claimed that they have no hand sanitizers and masks to sell to consumers. More than 11,876 people died from COVID-19 which originated from Wuhan of China in late December and spread to all other countries until March.
Currently, there is 13,043 PPE available in Bangladesh as against the demand for 1.0 million. The country has also inadequate COVID-19 test kits to detect the life-threatening virus.
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