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NEW DELHI: The Centre is moving to slap up to 40% customs duty on
and a combination of penal tariffs and mandatory local testing for
conventional power gears
to discourage imports from China, power minister R K Singh said on Thursday.
“It has been proposed that a basic customs duty of up to 25% is imposed on solar modules in the first year. It goes up to 40% in the second year and so on. For solar cells, the duty would be 15% this year and 30-40% from the next financial year,” Singh said.
The customs duty will replace the graded safeguard duty on modules and cells imposed in 2018 for two years on imports from China and Malaysia to protect the domestic industry. This expires next month. The duty began at 25% between July 30, 2018, and July 29, 2019; 20% between July 30, 2019, and January 29, 2020; and 15% for the period between January 30 and July 29 this year.
Three-fourths of India’s
capacity is built using equipment imported from mainland China or Chinese-owned firms in Malaysia. China is the world’s largest solar gear maker and manufacturers offer cheaper rates due to overt and covert gover nment subsidy.
Singh said a new duty structure would also be implemented for conventional electric equipment used in generation, transmission and distribution projects. “I will consider imposing customs duty on whatever (equipment) is being made in India if there is no duty (on them). Second, domestic capacities should be built for those items within two years. We have free-trade agreements with some countries for certain products. So the duty would be structured in a way to encourage the use of domestic equipment,” Singh said.
Since the power sector is considered sensitive due to security issues involved, imported material would be checked before they can be deployed. “There has been sufficient information regarding cyber attacks through power infrastructure. Every country has taken measures to protect is power systems so shall we. Every product that is imported will be thereby checked,” he said.