May 11, 2021 3:23:23 am
The Odisha government on Monday approved a proposal to float a global tender for Covid-19 vaccines in order to expedite the vaccination programme in the state.
While the modalities and quantity is yet to be finalised, the Chief Minister’s office (CMO) said it was decided that vaccines would be procured in the shortest possible time as cases continue to surge.
“We have realised that vaccination is the key to combat the pandemic, which is why we are working towards providing vaccination for the entire population of the state at the earliest. The decisions being taken are all in the same direction. A global tender will be floated to purchase vaccines from bidders from across the country. Since the proposal was passed today (Monday), a committee will now be constituted for further deliberations, following which, the tenders will be floated,” Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra said.
The state Cabinet has also urged the Centre to exempt Covid-19 vaccines from all tax liabilities in order to reduce the burden on states’ finances. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman demanding that purchase of Covid-19 vaccines be exempt from GST.
He had also sought financial assistance for states from the cess and surcharge collected by the Union government from various products. “These purchases attract the Goods and Service Taxes (GST), making the vaccines costly for the states. At present, 5 per cent GST is charged for coronavirus vaccines,” Patnaik wrote in the letter to Sitharaman.
In an earlier decision, the state had announced free vaccination for over 1.93 crore people in the 18-44 age group, at a proposed expenditure of Rs 2,000 crore. At present, vaccination for the said age group is only underway in five of the state’s 30 districts.
On Saturday, the state had received its first consignment of one lakh doses from Serum Institute of India (SII) as against a need of 3.77 crore doses for the 18-44 age group. So far, 62 lakh doses have been administered in the state so far — 11.81 lakh people have received both doses.
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