The industry is eagerly waiting for the scheme guidelines to understand the critical aspects with respect to the nature of expenses under eligible investment and localization requirements. The telecom industry requires continuous innovation which involves huge R&D costs and it will be interesting to see the nature of expenses being covered under eligible expenditure.
The recent PLI scheme for IT Hardware products provides for a localization schedule where printed circuit boards (PCB) need to be assembled by the applicant from the second year onwards and other specified components need to be either manufactured by the applicant or procured from a domestic third-party service provider. In case a similar condition is introduced under the telecom scheme, the companies may have to re-plan their investment and manufacturing processes as the sector operates on build some-buy some model for its manufacturing, considering highly customizable and low volume products.
It is important that the government expedites release of the guidelines as the benefit under the scheme commenced from 1 April 2021, even as the industry brainstorms the possibilities on offer. The industry would need time in case the existing manufacturing models warrant any change/modification on account of the scheme structure and the same may result in loss of benefit for such period.
Furthermore, the benefit under the scheme provides incentive to finished goods and hence it would be also be important to develop component manufacturing ecosystem in the coming years to support manufacturing. The government had introduced a similar PLI scheme for component manufactures to build local capacities and provide a conducive manufacturing ecosystem which also saw a good response from the Industry. Such scheme should also be introduced again in some time to enable finished goods manufacture to bring in more component manufacture. The success of the same shall realize true intent of the initiative.
There are still open questions which may be answered once the guidelines are out. The industry may be required to take some immediate decisions under the scheme, given the scheme has already started. The government will also ensure approvals and faster disbursals for successful implementation of the policy and to achieve the objectives laid out under the scheme. On the other hand, the industry will have to ensure they fulfil their commitment under the scheme and work diligently towards it.