R K Singh lauds Budget; renewable energy players say no policy directives

Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy R K Singh Friday called the Budget 2019-20 “historic, people-friendly and forward-looking” as it provides assistance to all needy sectors while maintaining fiscal prudence.

However, some renewable energy sector players have expressed their disappointment on the Budget, saying it provided no ray of hope as there was no policy directive to promote manufacturing, especially renewables, when there is a scarcity of funding for clean energy projects.

“Interim Budget 2019-20 is historic, it’s people-friendly and forward-looking. It provides assistance to all sectors which need assistance at the same time maintaining fiscal prudence,” said Singh said in a statement.

He expressed hope that the Budget would be able to bring smile to every face.

The country’s electrification success found a special mention in Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s Budget Speech.

The finance minister said: “Till the year 2014, about 2.5 crore families were forced to live the life of 18th century without electricity. Under Saubhagya Yojna, we provided free electricity connection to almost every household. By March 2019, all willing families will get electricity connection.”

Goyal also thanked the taxpayers saying, “Your tax pays for the electricity connections to the poor who lived in darkness for generations”.

On the UJALA scheme, the finance minister said 143 crore LED bulbs have been sold with the combined efforts of the government and the private sector and this has resulted into a saving of about Rs 50,000 crore per year in electricity bills of poor and middle-class families.

Goyal in his maiden Budget Speech also stressed upon electric vehicles and renewables to make India a pollution-free nation.

Citing the International Solar Alliance as example of India’s commitment towards clean energy, the finance minister said: “India’s installed solar generation capacity has grown over 10 times in past five years. This sector is now creating lakhs of new age jobs.”

Commenting on the Budget, Amit Gupta, director of legal and corporate affairs, Vikram Solar, said: “In a situation where there is scarcity of financing options for renewables and manufacturing units are dying a slow death, the Budget provides no ray of hope.”

Gupta further said: “The industry was expecting a policy directive from the government to promote manufacturing, especially in the renewable energy sector, in the background of job crisis, which India is facing right now. Surprisingly, this was completely missing from the Budget.”

He also said the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy remained almost the same as the capital allocated in 2018-19, standing at Rs 5,200 crore.

“Unfortunately, the government did not act upon the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendation of the reinstatement of the funding for renewable energy projects through the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), which was diverted towards the GST (goods and service tax) Compensation fund since 2017,” he added.

Sohinder Gill, director general of the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), said: “The EV (electric vehicle) industry welcomes our finance minister’s commitment towards making the country pollution-free, in his budget speech.

“We hope the government would soon announce a concrete plan of action with its time-bound implementation in order to fulfil its stated vision. The SMEV feels that an initial high dose of incentives and actions must be taken in the next one or two years to relaunch the electric mobility mission that has sort of lost steam in the recent years due to flip-flop of policies.”

Source: PTI