Saturday Jul 2, 2022
Saturday Jul 2, 2022

The unfair taxation on the import of Intraocular lenses

The import of quality intraocular lenses which covers a wider range of eye problems in Nepal has been a hassle.

2022 Apr 24, 6:07, Kathmandu

Nepal is known to manufacture intraocular lenses in the nation itself, but the limited production doesn’t solve all cataract or eye patients' demands. The import of the Intraocular lens levies a 30% customs duty which is against the global harmony code of 5%.

A cataract refers to the clouding of the lens of the eye after the natural cells decompose, this blocks the light which enters the lens and forms a white cloudish area. A cataract is the leading cause of blindness, accounting for 80% of all avoidable blindness in Nepal. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are also eye problems that are dominantly prevalent in Nepal.

Intraocular Lenses (IOL) are artificial eye lenses that are used as a remedy for near or far vision disruptions. These lenses cure cataracts or myopia, and a wide range of vision problems, more than any other vision surgery. There’s more than 4.5 lakh demand for Intraocular lenses in Nepal.

The nature of eye diseases can range from very high and very low. The renowned Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory which lies at Tilganga Eye Hospital is renowned for producing its very own Intraocular Lens (IOL), but not all range of eye power shortage is covered by these lenses. The Intraocular lenses made and exported from Nepal consist of the basic model and basic power which fails to reach the absolute demand. Hence, the import of intraocular lenses that cover a more dynamic range is a must.

The problem lies in the taxation on the import of Intraocular lenses. The import of quality intraocular lenses which covers a wider range of eye problems in Nepal has been a hassle.

The harmony code defines the custom tariff which is accepted globally. Globally, the custom for Intraocular lenses is only 5%. However, in Nepal, the situation differs, intraocular lenses are considered cosmetic contact lenses. Eye Hospitals and importers of Intraocular lenses such as Sweekriti International Pvt Ltd. have to pay a 30% customs duty for the import of Intraocular lenses.

Section XVIII, Chapter 90 of Nepal Customs Tariff
Section XVIII, Chapter 90 of Nepal Customs Tariff

Every model of Intraocular lenses has to be registered and quality assured under the DDA (Department of Drugs and Administration) as they are medical devices implanted by doctors. Intraocular lenses have more tax than other cosmetic lenses which is unfair.
As Intraocular lenses can be made in Nepal, more ranges and quality should be assured. There are hardly three models of Intraocular lenses that are produced in Nepal. The lenses are made of Pmma, hydrophilic, and hydrophobic materials. The basic materials Pmma and hydrophilic do not cure the whole range of cataract patients, and the most advanced, hydrophobic is yet to be launched.
The import of more ranges of Intraocular lenses is necessary. But the 30% tax rate does not abide by the global custom traditions.
To fulfill the complete demand for intraocular lenses, either the national production should produce intraocular lenses that fulfill the cataract and eye problems of the absolute patients or healthy competition should be assured to the importers of Intraocular lenses.


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