KATHMANDU, April 25: The government is mulling over reducing the customs duty on the import of 20,000 units of oxygen gas cylinders, citing the possible shortage of the oxygen carrying vessels in wake of the rising COVID-19 cases.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), it has forwarded a letter to the Ministry of Finance, requesting the latter to make necessary arrangements for importing the vessels. The health ministry’s move follows requests by the importers, according to the ministry’s officials.
After the alarming rate of spreading of the coronavirus in the second wave of the viral disease, hospitals in Nepal have started facing the rush of the COVID-19 patients. Due to this reason, there is a growing risk of shortage of medical oxygen supply inside the country. India, the main exporter of oxygen cylinders to Nepal, is itself facing an acute crisis of medical oxygen availability at its hospitals.
The MoHP has also been considering installing a liquid oxygen production plant along with subsidizing the import of the oxygen cylinders. Officials said that the ministry has initiated talks with Bheri Hospital, Bir Hospital, Rapti Health Science Academy, Rajbiraj Hospital, Hetauda Hospital, Seti Provincial Hospital and Pokhara Hospital to install necessary infrastructures to set up new liquid oxygen production plants.