With a number of cases of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) patients seeking financial support for the expensive Zolgensma drug, lawmakers are turning to the Union government for help. They point out that the SMA drug, which is not available in India, costs 18 billion rupees, of which 23% is import duty and 12% is GST, which is about 6.5 billion. Equivalent to rupees. When Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden (pictured) approached Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya about a tax exemption for the drug, ministers promised the center could grant a tax exemption in certain cases. Although full duty and tax exemption for drug imports is not possible without a political decision – which must be made by the GST Council – SMA patients can be exempt from dispensing if MPs report the cases to the center.
Although Congress is keen to keep the Pegasus dispute alive and has decided to hold demonstrations in front of Raj Bhawans in all state capitals on Thursday, the party may not be able to raise the issue in parliament on the same day. With protesting farmers ‘groups marching to Parliament on Thursday, most opposition parties believe that the farmers’ issues in both houses should be raised in solidarity with them. Some parties are likely to hold a dharna on the parliamentary premises. Members of many opposition parties have announced that they will stop all business in order to discuss the agitation of the farmers.
The US issued a security warning to its citizens in India on Wednesday advising them to avoid prominent areas, crowds and demonstrations and to take steps to keep them safe in the face of protest from farmers in New Delhi. “The US Embassy in New Delhi is aware of media reports about possible demonstrations in and around New Delhi on July 21st and 22nd by farmers and counter-demonstrators. Previous protests like this have sometimes led to violence, ”the embassy said.