Renewing the call for bringing natural gas under the GST regime, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday said the country needs an overarching policy covering various energy verticals in order to achieve self-sufficiency and security in this critical sector.
Defending the government’s target of doubling Indian oil refinery capacity to 600 million tonnes, Pradhan said at an energy conclave here that all major economies needed multiple sources of energy for growth.
“Gas as a clean fuel should come under the GST (Goods and Services Tax) when coal has already been placed in the five per cent slab under the new indirect tax regime,” the Minister said at ENRich 2017 here organised by British consulting multinational KPMG in India.
Petroleum products, including natural gas, still remain outside the ambit of GST, although the industry is for its inclusion.
Reacting to criticism of plans to double refinery capacity at a time when Indian Railways has decided to phase out diesel locomotives and electrify completely and the government’s vision of only electric cars — both by 2022, Pradhan said India continues to import petrochemicals and a roadmap was required for all energy utilisation in future.
“What is the real energy roadmap for India in the next two to three decades. We need a comprehensive policy for all energy verticals…hydrocarbons, coal, renewables, hydro and nuclear power,” he said.
In this connection, he pointed to the $20 million petrochemical complex being built jointly by Saudi Arabian state-run oil company Aramco and petrochemicals giant Sabic.
Pradhan’s concern about a comprehensive energy policy comes in the context of record low tariffs discovered via domestic solar and wind auctions, which have raised concerns about the viability of coal-fired thermal plants at a time when bad loans of state-run banks have reached staggering levels.
Pradhan later told reporters on the sidelines that current advances in coal technology like for clean coal, as well as for its gasification and liquefaction is turning the fuel into a less polluting source of power than earlier.