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Govt mulling increasing import duty on solar equipment: RK Singh

RK Singh said that in order to give a boost to Make in India, the Centre will increase tariff on solar equipment down the value chain in coming years
New Delhi: In order to give a push to Make in India, the government is considering increasing import duty on solar equipment down the value chain in the coming years, Minister of New and Renewable Energy RK Singh said. During an interaction with the press at a curtain-raiser for RE-Invest 2019 meet and expo, the minister said, “Right now safeguard duty is imposed on solar equipment which will be diluted in few years. We will increase tariff on solar equipment down the value chain in the coming years.”

No impact on solar energy bidding process

The minister also sought to allay fears that a hike in import duty may increase solar energy tariff bidding rate, saying that there will be no impact on solar energy bidding process in India. Singh also said that a power storage policy will be unveiled soon that will provide tax incentives, especially for solar equipment manufacturing in India. The Centre is encouraging storage segment to push renewables and electric vehicles.

Govt previously imposed safeguard duty last year

The Centre had imposed a safeguard duty on import of solar cells from China and Malaysia last year for a period of two years to protect domestic manufacturers from a steep rise in inbound shipments of the product. The government imposed a safeguard duty of 25 percent on solar cells for July 30, 2018 to July 29, 2019 period. The duty was later brought down to 20 percent for July 30, 2019 to January 29, 2020 and is further expected to be brought down to 15 percent for the January 30, 2020 to July 29, 2020 period. The import of solar cells to India has seen a significant increase in absolute terms. Imports of these cells went up to 9,790 MW in 2017-18 from 1,275 MW in 2014-15.  On the other hand, domestic production of solar cells stood at 84 MW in 2017-18. Domestic manufacturers have claimed that due to a surge in imports of these cells, many manufacturers at home have kept their production facilities idle. They also added that heavy losses have crippled the entire industry.