KARACHI: The government may provide some incentives to encourage local assembly of solar panels in the budget 2024-25.

Pakistan Solar Association (PSL) Senior Vice-President Mohammad Zakir Ali, who was part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent delegation to China, said, “I do not think the government will impose any new taxes and duties on solar panels, which already have zero per cent general sales tax. Only inverters carry 18pc GST.”

He said the government has been trying to lure Chinese manufacturers of different products to relocate their units in Pakistan after reports of some restrictions or curbs imposed on China by various countries.

Mr Zakir said that despite the government’s strong commitment to promoting solarisation in the country, “no memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed, though multiple agreements had been inked between Chinese and local entrepreneurs in different sectors.”

No MoU signed to attract solar investment during PM’s China visit

He was of the view that after a recent hue and cry, the government may not take any negative measures on net-metering, like reducing the power purchase rate from the current Rs21 to Rs12 per unit.

He said Chinese investors, in interactions during the visit, had said that Pakistan needed to impose an import duty on the arrival of completely built-up (CBU) solar panels so that the local panel manufacturers could work in a healthy environment.

He added that this would also promote fresh investment in the solar industry.

He added that when Chinese companies export to Pakistan or other countries, they get a rebate, which is the same as what they want from Pakistan after investing in the solar sector.

Some solar panel dealers said that the government is unlikely to touch the net-metering issue, which had already forced the government to clarify the situation after multiple media reports regarding the imposition of a fixed tax on citizens who produce energy through solar systems, a cut in the power purchase rate for domestic net-metering consumers, and the replacement of net metering with a gross-metering mechanism.

Federal Minister for Energy Awais Khan Leghari said in the third week of May that the government had no plans to end the solar net-metering policy.

The policy was introduced in 2017, and few people applied for net-metering owing to the high prices of solar panels. Mr Leghari assured that consumers who had already installed solar power and had a net-metering contract with Disco “would not be affected at all.”

He added that the government will also encourage net-metering in the future, and any change in the policy will be made after taking all stakeholders into confidence.

Leghari claimed that 0.3pc of the total electricity consumers have rooftop solar net-metering connections. “The number of total net metering connections has reached 113,000.”

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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