While the passing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill has been hailed as a giant step forward in tax reforms, renewable energy developers are deeply worried about its implications.
Although taxes on generation and sale of electricity have been kept outside the purview of the GST regime, capital goods and services used for setting up renewable energy projects have been included. Currently, such goods and services enjoy numerous tax concessions and exemptions, both at the Central level and in specific states, which want to encourage renewable energy use. All these are likely to end once GST is implemented, since one of the avowed purposes of GST is to do away with exemptions and concessions. Around 95% the of solar equipment used in the country, for instance, is imported. While imports generally attract basic customs duty (BCD) of 7-10%, renewable energy-related components pay a concessional 5%. There is also a special additional duty of customs (SAD) of 4%, which for renewable energy equipment is later refunded.