There is already safeguard duty of 15 percent levied on the imported solar cells and modules

The domestic solar manufacturing industry in a petition has now asked the Centre to consider extending the duty beyond two years

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) clarified that the basic customs duty (BCD) on imported solar cells and modules would remain nil in the current financial year.

In this year’s Union Budget, two new item heads were inducted in the customs duty bracket which pertained to solar cells and modules. The Budget proposed a 20 percent BCD on solar equipment. However, these items will continue at ‘nil’ BCD,” according to the budget speech.

MNRE in its notice issued on Thursday said solar will not attract any BCD. “Though the tariff rate on the new tariff items has been increased from nil to 20 percent, the BCD on (solar cells, not assembled) and (solar cells, assembled in modules or made into panels), remains nil,” said the notice.

There is already a safeguard duty of 15 percent levied on imported solar cells and modules, especially those coming from China. Senior officials said the if BCD would be imposed or not from the next fiscal would be decided after the safeguard duty expires in July.

In 2018, the government announced the imposition of safeguards duty on solar cells and modules for two years – 25 percent in the first year, 20 percent for six months, thereafter, and 15 per cent after that.

The duty specifically impacted the exports coming from China, as more than 85 per cent of India’s solar capacity is built on Chinese panels.

The domestic solar manufacturing industry in a petition has now asked the Centre to consider extending the duty beyond two years. In a separate request, MNRE asked the finance ministry to impose Custom Duty on imported solar cells and modules, in a graded manner from 2021 onwards.

“Exemption for solar PV cells and modules/panels under ITA-I should only be allowed if they are used in Information Technology. For any other use such as the production of solar power, BCD may be levied in a phased manner to encourage Make In India,” said the letter by R K Singh, union minister for power and MNRE, written in September 2019.

Sector executives said if BCD is imposed, the cost of imported solar equipment will go up in the range of 35-40 percent. This likely could lead to solar tariff going up by to Rs 3 per unit, said an executive. Solar modules constitute 80 percent of the cost of a solar power project.

  • India’s solar power generation capacity: 31,397 megawatt
  • India’s solar cells manufacturing capacity: 3,164 megawatt/annually
  • India’s solar module manufacturing capacity: 8,000 megawatt/annually
  • Solar cells import to India (2019-20 till yet) by value: $1.4 million

News Source: Business Standard

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