FICCI urges govt to scrap windfall tax

NL Corresspondent

 

The government should scrap the windfall profit tax on domestically produced crude oil as the levy is adversely impacting the capex-intensive exploration of oil and gas, the industry said in its recommendation for the forthcoming annual Budget.

first imposed windfall profit taxes on July 1, joining a growing number of nations that tax super normal profits of energy companies.

At that time, a Rs 23,250 per tonne ($40 per barrel) windfall profit tax on domestic crude production was levied.

The new tax, which was also slapped on the export of petrol, diesel and ATF, is calibrated every fortnight in step with oil prices.

Industry chamber FICCI in its recommendations for the Budget, said such levy is in addition to all other existing levies.

“It is recommended that the Special Additional Excise Duty (SAED) on petroleum crude should be removed or if there is a need to continue the levy for some time as an extraordinary measure then the rate be changed to an ad-valorem levy of 20 per cent of incremental crude price over $100,” it said.

The windfall tax, it said, was over and above the heavy burden of royalty (20 per cent of oil price for onshore fields and 10 per cent for offshore areas) and oil industry development (OID) cess (20 per cent of oil price).

“Further, the levy (windfall tax) is calculated on per tonne of production rather than as a percentage of the realised price, thereby causing hardship to oil producers when the prices get reduced,” it said.

“The levy has an adverse impact on exploration and development of capex proposals.”

Sunil Duggal, Group CEO, Vedanta Ltd said currently, domestic crude oil producers are taxed nearly 70 per cent and a tax structure of 35-40 per cent abiding by global standards will encourage critical investments in the sector.

“The budget is a good opportunity to rethink provisions and revise existing policies towards ensuring the country’s energy security,” he said.

Manish Maheshwari, chairman, Invenire Energy said the reforms ushered in by the government in recent times are rich in intent and relevant in context, given that India may be short on domestic production but certainly the oil and gas reserves held in the rocks here are bountiful.

“We do expect the Union Budget FY24 to address a few niggling issues that will give further impetus to the domestic oil and gas sector,” he said.

The government, he said, should bring crude oil and natural gas into the ambit of GST.

“This will allow oil and gas companies to benefit from the crucial cross-utilization of input tax credit as introduced by the GST regime.

“This is particularly critical since capital goods used for the production of hydrocarbons come under GST,” he said.

Also, the budget should provide clarity on exemption of SAED on production of crude oil.

“The Government has exempted ‘persons’ whose annual production is less than 2 million barrels from windfall tax.

“However, defining the base year as FY 21-22 for this threshold of 2 million barrels and exemption on incremental production above the threshold would remove ambiguity for the entities willing to invest capital and introduce for enhancing domestic oil production,” he said.

Energy security is pivotal for the nation and these measures in the Budget would provide a great opportunity for the upstream industry to deliver.