Gadkari opposes plan to impose duty on solar panel imports

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2017 Published on June 10, 2014

Nitin Gadkari

Writes to Commerce Minister that proposed duty will escalate solar power costs

Domestic solar power producers and exporters of solar equipment to India, who have been vehemently opposing the Commerce Ministry’s proposed anti-dumping duty on solar panels and cells, have a surprise sympathiser in the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari.

In a letter to Commerce Minister (Independent Charge) Nirmala Sitharaman, Gadkari has asked for “scrapping’’ of the anti-dumping duty proposed on imports from the US, China, Malaysia and Taiwan. “The last Government, just before leaving, had proposed an anti-dumping duty on imported solar cells and solar panels. This duty, if imposed, would escalate cost of solar power by 100 per cent. Solar power projects with capacity of about 4,000 MW tendered recently would be stuck due to price escalation,” Gadkari wrote in the letter.

Steep duties

The Directorate-General of Anti-Dumping, under the Commerce Ministry, had recommended steep anti-dumping duties ranging from $ 0.11 per watt of power produced to $ 0.81 per watt of power produced after its investigations revealed that these items were being dumped in the market at very low prices causing serious injury to the fledgling domestic industry.

The duties will be applied only after these are notified by the Finance Ministry.

The US-based First Solar Inc has already approached the Delhi High Court seeking reversal of the recommendation of anti-dumping on the import of its material.

While the DGAD’s investigations were initiated last year under the UPA regime, the results were arrived at and made public after the BJP Government came to power at the Centre.

“The Road Minister has opposed the recommended duties giving the same arguments as that given by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy so far, but it is a bit unusual for a Minister of an unrelated department to take up the issue,” a Commerce Ministry official told Business Line.

The MNRE had approached the Commerce Ministry during the on-going investigations asking it not to recommend the duties. But the Commerce Ministry had argued that since determination of anti-dumping duties is a quasi-judicial process based on available facts and figures, opinions of individual Ministries don’t matter.

Cheap imports

According to the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association, more than 70 per cent of the installed PV capacity is idle in the country and hundreds of employees have been laid off because of cheap imports of solar panels, cells and glass flooding the market.

Last year, imports of solar products into India totalled ₹6,000 crore but Indian manufacturers did not even get 2 per cent of that business, ISMA said.

Published on June 10, 2014
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