Lahore - Locally manufactured solar panels were neither IEC 61215 and IEC 61370 certified nor had performance guarantee or banks’ warranty. The local solar panels also missed several features which required at national or international level, according to industry sources.

The Pakistan Solar Association, in its budget proposals, has urged the government to ensure zero duty on import of solar equipment to overcome electricity loadshedding. In its proposals for next federal budget 2015-16, the Association recommended that all solar equipment including solar panel, battery, charge controllers (off-grid, on-grid and hybrid) should be exempted from all kinds of taxes and duties. This step would help end power load-shedding completely within next two to three years. The budget proposals also called for including the control unit and solar energy monitoring devices in duty-free schedule and excluding these from the tax and duties tariff list, besides making the standard certification mandatory for import of quality solar equipment.

And new customs tariff codes, wherever necessary, be formed, while removing all complexities in this regard, it added.

It was also mentioned in the PSA budget proposals that the import of solar energy plants and related equipment had been duty free under SRO 575 (1) since 2006 till 2014. However, under the fifth and sixth schedule of Finance Act 2014, 32 percent duty imposed on import of solar panel, 55 percent on solar batteries 35 percent each on invertor and charge controller. Though keeping in view the public demand, the government abolished import duty on solar panel, its import could not jack up due to heavy duties on the batteries, invertors and other related equipment, he maintained.

PSA Chairman Engineer Faiz Bhutta said Pakistan’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate had every year been lowering by three to four percent and her economic growth rate had also been dwindling due to prevailing severe energy crisis. Therefore, zero rate duty and taxes on all solar equipment was inevitable, since solar energy was a ready solution to electricity crisis, he added. Faiz Bhutta said that solar system was a modern technology being adopted by developing and developed countries, which were making huge investment on solar energy generation.