Lots of hints dropped but no concrete proposal
The interim budget, or vote on account, presented on February 1, 2019, had little in store for the energy sector.
While reviewing the achievements made in the previous years, Union minister Piyush Goyal, who stood in for finance minister Arun Jaitley, lauded the increase in installed solar capacity by a factor of 10, as well as the creation of the India-headquartered, International Solar Alliance, as symbols of India’s leadership in the renewable energy sector.
The Ujjwala scheme, which aims to provide 8 crore free LPG connections to rural households, is still 2 million shy of the target, with two months to the deadline.
Likewise, the Saubhagya scheme, which aims to provide free electricity connections to all households, also found mention. However, none of these programmes saw any target revisions or budgetary allocations in the interim budget.
The lack of mention of the recent troubles posed to the renewable sector, or the more complicated picture behind the implementation of Saubhagya and Ujjwala schemes, seemed conspicuous.
Renewable developers have to wait for the full budget for further clarity on Goods & Services Tax (GST), import duties or tax relief of any sort. However, the budget speech was strewn with hints regarding the incumbent government’s direction for the sector in the next five years.
Energy security and reducing dependence on imported oil was stressed on multiple times; renewable energy generation will have to increase significantly. More categorically, Goyal stated that electric vehicles (EV) and storage systems were of utmost importance for the country’s future.
It remains to be seen how this will translate to government support in the full budget. For now, the status quo will prevail till the elections conclude.
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