New Delhi: The government is weighing proposals to cut taxes on electric cars and amend the electricity act to allow entities other than power distributors set up charging points for the cars, in a bid to popularise them and cut down on pollution.
The GST Council will be asked to consider lowering the taxes on electric and hybrid cars. States will be urged to either waive or lower the road tax for electric cars.
Car makers have already sought a lower tax rate of 12 per cent on electric vehicles, while states such as Goa have waived the road tax on them. At the same time, the power ministry is considering amending the electricity Act to allow private entities purchase power from distributors and set up charging points near fuel outlets.
Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally given a signal to the industry and government to move towards electric or alternative energy-powered vehicles from the petrol or diesel ones.
Tata Motors, Mahindra, Tesla, BMW, Nissan and Hyundai are planning launches over the next two years. Sources say that Nissan is working on making a car for Rs 7 lakh.
The Mahindras are expected to showcase two electric vehicles at an upcoming auto-expo including a coupe and a micro SUV, while the Tatas will roll out the Tigor to be backed by a chain of charging stations set up by Tata Power.
The government is studying a draft paper by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) that lays out a road map to shift to electric vehicles by 2047, with the conversion of 40 per cent of cars and all buses by 2030.
However, both SIAM and the analysts said the government needed to do more beyond lowering the taxes on electric or hybrid vehicles to 12 per cent.
There should be subsidies to set up electric charging points, tax exemptions for loans to buy the cars besides minor assistance such as waiving parking fees and road tolls.
The government in 2014 came up with a plan to give subsidies up to Rs 150,000 to electric cars and Rs 30,000 to electric two wheelers, provided at least 30 per cent value addition was done in India.
Auto giants have pointed out it is impossible to start localisation from the very beginning. Besides, hybrids will remain more popular in the medium term and should also qualify for the incentives. These issues are under discussion with the government, industry officials said
Already a number of companies have announced plans to invest in India's electric vehicle programme expecting sops.
JSW Energy has signed an MoU with the Gujarat government to set up an electric vehicle plant at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore, which will have capacity to produce 2 lakh units daily.
Electric car maker Tesla had also announced plans for the country but sources said these have been delayed because of local difficulties.
Hero Motors plans to tie up with a Bangalore-based specialised company to build its own vehicles.
The BJP today dismissed the Congress' criticism of the current state of the economy as well as the employment scenario in the country.
BJP national spokesman G V L Narasimha Rao said things on the economic front never looked that better than they are at present.
Addressing a press conference at the state BJP headquarters this evening, Rao said the country has been the largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the last two-three years and that significant avenues have opened up for jobs.
"We are now among the toppers in the World Economy Lead Table. The World Bank rated us as the fastest growing large economy in the world with an estimated 7.3 per cent growth rate. The Centre for Economic and Business Research projected that India will be the fifth largest economy in the world in 2018," the BJP leader said.
Hailing the "remarkable turnaround", the BJP leader said that only in the year 2013, the country was rated as one of the five most weakest economies.
He said the turnaround was possible because of a "strong foundation" laid by the Narendra Modi government in the last three-and-a-half years with a strict economic discipline and reforms, he said.
"From scams (during the ten-year UPA rule) to (people-oriented) schemes under Modi, the economic progress has been tremendous," the BJP spokesperson said.
The Congress has been critical of the state of economy under the Modi government.
Senior party leader former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said that the economy was poorly managed and was not able to attract investments and not able to create jobs.
"The truth, again, is that 2017-18 will end with 6.5 per cent growth, maybe even lower," he had said.
Rao said that public investment in infrastructure had risen tremendously, resulting in growth.
"Private investments too picked up after a slowdown in the first two years (of Modi rule). The slowdown was because of a legacy problem as we could not optimally utilise the capacities built," he said.
He termed as a "political propaganda" the reports that the employment scenario was bleak in the country.
Rao said the National Sample Survey Organisation and other surveys did not properly capture the employment scenario.
"The NITI Aayog is now conducting more exhaustive surveys which will reveal the true picture. The government has also focused in a big way on informal and unorganised sectors that will be a significant avenue for job creation. With Mudra and other schemes, we expect over four crore jobs to be created soon," the BJP leader said.
While the economy reflected a "Rising India", the political scenario held the mirror to a "Rising BJP' under a "Rising Modi", he said.
"Only three days ago, Gallup International had come out with a survey report rating Modi as the third most popular leader in the world. This is an unprecedented and extraordinary recognition for the country's Prime Minister and an acknowledgement of his leadership not only by Indians but also people of the world," Rao said.
He said while the BJP was in power on its own in 14 states, its allies are ruling another five states."In the next three months, we will win Karnataka and possibly Mizoram and Meghalaya that will firmly establish the BJP's footprint across India. The BJP's victory in Karnataka will spur greater momentum for the party in the south," Rao added.
BARMER, INDIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched the construction of a $6.8 billion refinery in the western state of Rajasthan, hopeful to lift national capacity to meet the surge in fuel demand.
By 2030, India's demand for petrol and diesel is expected to go up by two-thirds to 170 billion litres, as an expanding middle class spends on cars and air travel.
The 180,000-barrel-per-day refinery and petrochemical project in the state bordering Pakistan is being built by the country's third-biggest state refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) in a tie-up with the state government. The foundation stone for the project was first laid in September 2013 by the then ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi. However, the project remained a non-starter as the state government had not given adequate incentives.
The project is now estimated to be completed by 2022-23, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
Modi said the project will create employment for thousands of people in Rajasthan which elects a new state assembly in December.
To make the project viable, the state government has offered an interest-free loan of 168.45 billion rupees ($2.63 billion) to HPCL to be paid back in 15 years from the commissioning of the project, Pradhan added.
Energy analysts are, however, skeptical about the project's profitability in a land-locked desert state.
The Rajasthan refinery will have to bear the crude transportation costs as well as deal with water scarcity, said a senior executive at a private refiner who requested anonymity, citing company policy.
Pradhan said underground water will be drilled in the region and will be desalinated and used in the refinery. A senior HPCL official said a water pipeline is being considered.
Rajasthan accounts for a meagre 1.07 percent of water resources in the country, according to official data.
Pradhan said the Rajasthan refinery will buy about 50,000 bpd oil from the nearby oilfield operated by Cairn India Ltd , a unit of Vedanta Resources.
However, a senior HPCL executive said his company prefers to fully operate the refinery on Vedanta's oil to cut transportation costs.
"The ability to process imported crude oil, commonly known as 'swing capacity', will also be built," he explained.
NEW DELHI: India's December trade deficit widened to its highest in more than three years as higher import bills for gold and crude oil weighed on rising exports, government data showed on Monday.
The trade deficit widened to $14.88 billion last month from $13.83 billion in November, data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed.
The trade deficit has widened by about $36.4 billion in the first three quarters of the current financial year to $114.86 billion. That could put pressure on the current account deficit of Asia's third largest economy.
India, the world's third biggest oil consumer, shipped in crude and refined products worth $10.35 billion, about 35 percent more than a year ago, largely due to a spurt in global oil prices.
Gold imports by India, the world's second biggest consumer of the precious metal after China, surged 71.5 percent to $3.4 billion, the data showed.
The country's overseas gold purchases in December stood at 70 tonnes, up 40 percent from a year ago, provisional data from precious metals consultancy GFMS showed.
Overall imports during December rose by 21.12 percent to $41.91 billion.
Exports during the month were up 12.36 percent to slightly more than $27 billion, mainly due to a 25.32 percent rise in engineering goods exports to $7.4 billion.
Peter Coleman who is the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, trade commissioner was here in Visakhapatnam to discuss strategic ties between India and Australia. He was in discussion about trade and more with AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation, APCCIF yesterday.
(Left) Trade Commissioner of Australian Trade and Investment Commission Peter Coleman with President of AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation G Sambasiva Rao at the round-table conference in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday
Not just trade but commerce and technology were key areas for partnering between India and Australia as per him. Scholars involved in research at doctoral level in key areas such as climate, science, health care and more were relevant to both countries. Technology transfer in keeping with the modern times was also discussed in Visakhapatnam yesterday.
G Sambasiva Rao who is the president of APCCIF was the one who drew attention to the sustained increase in capabilities of Vizag as a city. Visakhapatnam is emerging as the technology and knowledge hub with institutes such as IIT and IIPE. He offered this insight to the visiting dignitary from Australia. Best curriculum and infrastructure in the educational and research sector here ensure excellence of students. Much more is in store for the future he said on behalf of India and Visakhapatnam. Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and data security were all emerging fields here.
Mr. Coleman spoke about a partnership between Universities in Australia and Universities in India for joint research programmes in areas of product development, technologies and processes.