KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has relaxed import regulations on medical equipment in order to help the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“All importers can now make Import Advance Payment and Import on Open Account without any limit for the import of medical equipment, medicines and other ancillary items to treat COVID-19,” the statement reads. “This applies to all federal and provincial government departments, hospitals in public and private sectors, charitable organizations, manufacturers and commercial importers.”
International donor agencies and foriegn government can also send medical equipment more easily now, as banks in Pakistan have now been allowed to approve the Electronic Import Form.
The rising number of cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan have prompted the SBP to take action.
“An effective strategy to fight against the menace of COVID-19 requires timely availability of needed equipment. In the backdrop of unprecedented spread of the deadly virus, SBP has taken these measures to facilitate the import of much needed equipment in a seamless manner,” the SBP said.
This is not the only action the SBP has taken to help hospitals and the medical industry. Earlier on March 17, along with announcing the policy rate cut, the SBP also announced a Rs5-billion scheme for hospitals.
Under the refinance facility to combat COVID-19, finance will be provided to banks at zero per cent, who can then lend to hospitals at 3pc for five years.
Commenting on the scheme, SBP Governor Reza Baqir at the time said they were still waiting to see how the virus unfolded in Pakistan, that there is no limit to helping hospitals.