Bridge India

Solar modules to be taxed at 5% under GST as against 18% declared earlier

Last week, we wrote that the proposed 18% Goods and Service Tax (GST) on solar modules could cause major disruption in the industry and affect over 10 GW of projects. Following uproar in the industry, India’s revenue secretary, Hasmukh Adhia, has clarified that the rate of tax on solar modules should be 5% and not 18%. He said that an official clarification in this regard may be issued on June 3 when the GST council meets next. Earlier last week, secretary for Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) had also issued a statement that the 18% rate on solar modules seems to be an anomaly and that it should be corrected.

  • Total project capital cost is likely to rise by about 4% as against 10-12% envisaged earlier;
  • Revised rate structure will not have any material negative impact on the industry and will allow project developers to proceed with construction;
  • MNRE needs to still play a hands-on advisory role for all affected entities to ensure smooth transition for the industry;

5% GST rate for solar modules sounds reasonable and consistent with government guidance leading up to the rates announcement. The new tax regime will result in effective rate of indirect taxes to go up from zero to 5% on solar modules and around 3% on engineering and construction services. Impact on inverters is still not clear. Our current estimate is that the total project capital cost will rise by about 4%.

BRIDGE TO INDIA believes that the revised rate structure will not have any material negative impact on the industry because of the buffer afforded by sharp fall in equipment costs. It will allow project developers to proceed with construction. Some developers may still file compensation claims but many of them might simply absorb the additional burden to avoid scrutiny of sensitive commercial information.

As we stated last week, MNRE needs to play a hands-on role by advising all affected entities – project developers, DISCOMs, equipment manufacturers and EPC contractors – to ensure smooth transition for the solar industry.

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