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GST could raise solar tariffs by 10%: Report

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New Delhi, February 15: Solar tariffs in India may rise by nearly 10 percent if current tax exemptions are curtailed under the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, a local think-tank dealing with energy and environment issues has said.

India’s emerging solar sector could see tariffs rise by nearly 10 per cent if current tax exemptions were curtailed in the roll out of the GST,” the Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said in a statement on Tuesday, citing its study.

 

This comes in the backdrop of solar tariffs falling to record lows last week when major players, including foreign firms, won separate contracts for building a 750 MW solar plant in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, with bids to supply power at less than Rs 3 per unit.

 

The GST could possibly increase capital cost of a solar project by Rs4.5 million per megawatt if current tax exemptions were curtailed, setting back the sector in terms of cost competitiveness by about 18 months, the CEEW study said.

Multiple GST rates and their uncertain applicability to different equipments and services for solar projects is a growing concern from solar project developers and investors,” it said.

“GST could also impact the pace of the second phase of solar park development for additional 20,000 MW capacity announced in the recent budget,” it said.

“The increase in solar tariffs would also vary across states; higher for states such as Rajasthan where VAT and Entry Tax exemptions are currently provided for solar equipment, as opposed to Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat where VAT and Entry Tax exemptions are not provided,” it added.

CEEW said that solar project developers have already approached the government with requests to ensure that the current tax exemptions applicable to the sector continue.

The study found that GST will give a boost to the government’s Make in India initiative, helping to improve the competitiveness of Indian manufacturers of solar cells, panels and modules, eliminate the cascading effect of the existing tax structure, and introduce an input tax credit.

“Increased competitiveness of domestic solar manufacturers could create an additional 37,000 new jobs in the solar manufacturing sector by 2022,” it said.

“GST offers many long term benefits, but the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited and other related agencies must provide clear guidelines regarding the applicable GST slab for upcoming solar power projects and introduce government mechanisms to offset the short term negative impacts of GST,” CEEW Chief Executive Arunabha Ghosh said in the statement.

Ghosh also said that if current tax exemptions are curtailed, the impact of the increase in solar tariffs could be partially offset by policy instruments, such as accelerated depreciation benefits or viability gap funding for projects incurring increased capital investments.

IANS

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New WhatsApp Terms of Service reveals close collaboration with Facebook

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New Delhi, Feb 22: In an apparent hint that Facebook is set to monetise its WhatsApp operations, a new Terms of Service (ToS) spotted in the Google Play Beta Programme says that WhatsApp will work with Facebook companies over the next year to help businesses connect with its 1.5 billion users.

WABetaInfo, a website that tracks WhatsApp Beta programmes, said that in the latest 2.18.57 version, WhatsApp has laid down plans to work closely with Facebook companies.

“For example, you might see Facebook options to start a conversation with a business on WhatsApp,” the new ToS read.

“If you use Facebook Company Products, we will ask Facebook to use the information it has about you and your interests to help us provide you a way to connect with businesses in a relevant and personalised manner through informational and marketing messages, business directory listings, [and other sponsored content/ads] on WhatsApp,” it added.

WhatsApp will also work with Facebook to measure the effectiveness of these connections for itself and the businesses.

“Once we start to work with Facebook on these relevant and personalised experiences, you’ll be able to manage the experience in your [Facebook ad settings and ad preferences] [and we will tell you when these are available],” the Facebook-owned messaging service said.

It, however, said added: “When we share your personal information with other Facebook companies, it will only be used to provide services to WhatsApp on our behalf in accordance with our instructions and terms or to help ensure the safety, security, and integrity of WhatsApp and other Facebook company products.

“Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your phone number, will be shown on Facebook or any of the Facebook company products, unless you choose to show it,” the company said in the new ToS.

In the latest Beta version, WhatsApp said it is working to find useful ways for its users to connect with businesses on WhatsApp so they can receive things like order, transaction and appointment information, delivery and shipping notifications, product and service updates, marketing messages, business directory listings to discover businesses on WhatsApp, and other sponsored content/ads from these businesses.

To help businesses communicate better with their customers in India, WhatsApp last month officially rolled out “WhatsApp Business” — a free-to-download Android app for small businesses — in the country.

The new app, available on Google Play Store, will make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for its users to chat with businesses that matter to them.

The app will help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses and website.

It will also save time with smart messaging tools like quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy.

IANS

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Key Indian equity indices open on negative note

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Mumbai, Feb 22: Taking a cue from global markets, the key Indian equity market indices on Thursday opened lower ahead of futures and options (F&O) expiry.

The Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had closed at 33,844.86 points on Wednesday, opened lower at 33,817.09 points.

Minutes into trading, it was quoting at 33,726.79 points, down by 118.07 points, or 0.35 per cent.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the broader 51-scrip Nifty, which had closed at 10,397.45 points on Wednesday, was quoting at 10,341.60 points, down by 55.85 points or 0.54 per cent.

On Wednesday, bargain hunting by investors lifted the key Indian equity indices ahead of the F&O expiry, snapping a three-day losing streak.

According to market observers, healthy buying in IT, technology, media and entertainment and banking stocks added to the upward trajectory of the benchmark indices.

The Sensex was up by 141.27 points or 0.42 per cent at the Wednesday’s closing. In the day’s trade, the barometer 30-scrip sensitive index had touched a high of 33,911.36 points and a low of 33,702.50 points.

The Nifty too, was up by 37.05 points or 0.36 per cent.

On Thursday, Asian indices were mostly showing a negative trend.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was trading in red, down by 0.91 per cent, Hang Seng down by 0.97 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi was also down by 0.49 per cent.

China’s Shanghai Composite index was the only quoting in green, up by 1.91 per cent.

Nasdaq closed in red, down by 0.22 per cent while FTSE 100 was up by 0.48 per cent at the closing on Wednesday.

IANS

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Jio to invest Rs 10,000 crore in 3 years in UP: Mukesh Ambani

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Lucknow, Feb 21: Reliance Jio will invest another Rs 10,000 crore in Uttar Pradesh over the next three years, Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani said here on Wednesday.

“Today I am happy to inform this audience that Jio is one of the largest investors in Uttar Pradesh with investments of over Rs 20,000 crore. Jio is providing the highest quality data at the lowest price in the world to over 2 crore citizens of Uttar Pradesh,” Ambani said while addressing the Uc.

“I have come to Lucknow to assure the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister that Jio’s Digital Revolution is here to make the maximum contribution to UP’s development revolution,” he added.

While talking about affordable handsets, JioPhone, Ambani said: “Jio will make available over two crore JioPhones in UP within the next two months on a priority basis.”

He mentioned that Jio has already created over 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.

“Jio will establish a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the campus of a reputed university in Uttar Pradesh,” Ambani added.

IANS

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