Breather for solar gear importers
The government is taking steps to ease the entry of importers of solar panels and modules into the new solar import regime, where they have to pay a 7.5% levy on such equipment, along with various cesses, amounting to around 10%. Since India’s solar programme began, such imports were always allowed free.
The Commissioner of Customs, Vijayawada, has written to at least two solar developers saying their solar equipment held back at Krishnapatnam port would be released on furnishing of a bond for the amount due as import duty, without any accompanying bank guarantee. Until now port customs officials had been insisting on bank guarantees as well.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has written twice to NTPCBSE 0.73 %, Solar Corporation of India, various state discoms and energy departments of different states seeking a list of solar developers who had won bids before the new levy was imposed. Since the proposed tariffs submitted at these bids were made on a zero-duty calculation, these developers will be exempted from paying the new levy while importing for these particular projects.
The duty was imposed following a notification from the Central Board of Excise and Customs in September 2016 that since solar panels and modules generate power they should be classified along with “electrical motors and generators” under the Customs Act, which attract 7.5% duty, and not with “diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices, photosensitive semiconductor devices including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels,” as they formerly were and whose import is free. Its implementation began a year later in September 2017, initially at Chennai port and later at others as well, but without any formal communication to this effect to solar developers.