Surgical-strike hikes surgical-cost in India

Friday – February 22, 2019
SRINAGAR (India): India is at the receiving end of a surgical-strike that she herself has launched by hiking custom duty to 200 percent on all Pakistani imports, as a result on Thursday a huge consignment of surgical instruments from Pakistan is stuck at Wagah border, as hundreds of Indian suppliers failed to pay the hiked custom duty.

According to Kashmir media service (KMS), Indian media reports quoting Indian suppliers said, “The delay in custom clearance will lead to shortage of vital surgical items in Indian markets countrywide.”

The consignment awaiting the go-ahead from custom officials in Amritsar was dispatched from Sialkot in Pakistan via Samjhauta express train more than a week ago, when the maximum custom duty on imported items from Pakistan was not more than 18 percent.

The surgical instruments manufactured in Sialkot city of Punjab are considered to be “the best among the world” and the hike of custom duty by India on Pakistani goods has made healthcare services in India to suffer the most.

“We are not able to pay the revised custom duty of 200 percent because it’s too much. We are demanding that our consignments should be released on earlier custom duty so that we fulfil the demand of different hospitals and medical colleges in different parts of India,” Mohit Mahajan, president of surgical instrument manufacturers (SIM) and traders’ association of India (TAI), said.

The imports include scissors, forceps and other surgical instruments. Surjit Kumar, a supplier based in Amritsar, said the prices of surgical instruments and other related items will sky-rocket in coming days because “most of the surgical instruments come from Pakistan”.

“The hike will affect healthcare services as it will put huge burden on ailing people,” Nigam Gupta, a supplier from Jammu, said.

“On hammer forging technique, Pakistan has an advantage over India due to its cheaper labour that is passed down as a hereditary skill,” Gupta said, adding that most of the suppliers in India are based in Punjab’s Jalandhar as they receive surgical instruments from across the border mainly through the Delhi-Lahore rail link.