Hiked customs duty halts supply of surgical instruments to J&K

Hiked customs duty halts supply of surgical instruments to J&K
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Srinagar: Many dealers of surgical instruments have refused to supply fresh surgical items to hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir due to escalating prices following the hike in customs duty to 200 percent on all products imported from Pakistan.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that many Punjab-based suppliers of surgical instruments have communicated to their representatives in J&K to stop taking fresh orders.
“Following the duty hike of 200 percent on import from Pakistan, we are unable to get goods from across the border. This has hampered our supply chain. So we won’t be able to supply fresh instruments to suppliers, hospitals, and medical colleges on the given rates,” said a Punjab-based supplier.
He said he had requested local distributors in J&K to stop taking new orders till prices decrease.
Markets in J&K are already running short of surgical instruments as 90 percent of these items come from Pakistan’s Punjab state through the Samjhauta Express rail link.
A surgeon at SMHS Hospital said that shortage of supply would impact surgeries in hospitals and medical colleges. “In teaching institutions, MBBS and MS students are the main beneficiaries of these instruments, with which they learn to use these instruments. They will have to bear the brunt of this halt in the supply,” he said.
Last month, a huge consignment of surgical instruments from Pakistan got stuck at Punjab’s Wagah border as hundreds of Indian suppliers failed to pay the high customs duty. The imports include scissors, forceps and other surgical instruments.
Suppliers said the delay in customs clearance had led to a shortage of vital surgical items in Indian markets.
A pre-Partition industry set-up continues to produce more competitive surgical instruments in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
The customs duty was hiked after New Delhi revoked the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) status to Pakistan on February 15, a day after the Pulwama attack which killed 49 CRPF soldiers.
Junaid Hafiz, a Srinagar-based dealer, told Kashmir Reader that prices of surgical instruments have sky-rocketed since the decision.
“All the surgical items are sold at huge prices after the hike in customs duty. Common people are the main victims of this decision as it puts additional burden on their pockets,” he said.
According to him, Pakistan-made instruments and those imported from Germany are considered best because of their quality and strength.
“We would get Pakistan-made items at a very cheaper rate. But now we are left with no option but to purchase expensive items as they relate to critical services,” he said.