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Odisha to float global tender to procure COVID-19 vaccines

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: May 10, 2021 23:45 IST
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Facing an acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, the Odisha government on Monday decided to float a global tender for procuring the vaccine to inoculate the states entire population, Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra said.

 

IMAGE: A medic inoculates a beneficiary during a drive-in vaccination, in Bhubaneswar. Photograph: Sarangadhara Bishnoi/ANI Photo

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The Cabinet also allowed the state government to exert pressure on the Centre for exemption of taxes like GST on COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and equipment required for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

"It is felt that complete vaccination is the best way to protect precious lives of the people. Therefore, the Cabinet allowed the state government to go for global tender and get vaccines at the earliest," Mohapatra said.

The Odisha State Medical Corporation (OSMC) will float the global e-tender, a government notification issued at night said.

The state government constituted a 10-member Technical Committee and nine-member Managerial Committee to supervise the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines through the global tender, the notification said.

The technical committee, headed by Director Medical Education and Training Prof C B K Mohanty, will suggest to the state government how to procure the best quality vaccines being made by leading manufacturers across the world, official sources said.

The Managerial Committee, on the other hand, will look into the business side of the matter. It will be led by OSMC Managing Director Yamini Sarangi.

The technical committee will also suggest the state government on measures to be taken to protect life, livelihood and return of normalcy, the chief secretary said.

The Cabinet also allowed the state government to exert pressure on the Centre for exemption of taxes like GST on COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and equipment required for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Domestic supplies and commercial imports of vaccines attract a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, however, on Sunday said that GST exemption to domestic supplies and commercial import of COVID vaccines would make the item costlier for consumers as manufacturers would not be able to offset the taxes paid on inputs.

Since the state government has been spending crores of rupees from its own resources for testing, tracing and treating people affected by COVID-19, the Cabinet felt that the Centre should share with it the amount collected as cess and surcharge from petrol, diesel and other items.

"The state's economy should support the expenditure being done on COVID-19 detection and treatment. Therefore, exemption of taxes and share in the cess and surcharges being collected by the Union Government is most essential," Mohapatra said quoting the Cabinet decision.

The Cabinet also discussed the situation of Israel where most of its population has been vaccinated for which normalcy has returned to that country, Mohapatra said.

The vaccination has helped in checking the spread of infection among health care workers and frontline workers in Odisha, Mohapatra said.

"If at all vaccinated people get the infection, the intensity is very less," he said.

Vaccination is a must as nobody knows how many waves will hit the state, the senior official said.

The Cabinet also thanked the Covid Warriors who have been working day in and day out risking their own lives.

It also thanked the people at large who have all along supported and abided by the COCID-19 protocol which helped contain the spread of the virus.

Till May 9, as many as 61,52,215 vaccine doses have been administered to the people of the state, a senior health department official said.

However, the inoculation programme was affected due to a shortage of vaccines supplied by the central government.

The state has several times raised the issue at the national level, but the problem continued to hamper the vaccination process, the official said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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