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Import curbs not to deter SBI from lending

New Delhi: Restriction on imported gear for renewable and thermal power projects will not deter State Bank of India from lending to projects built on foreign equipment, its chairman Rajnish Kumar told ET.SBI will continue its normal process in dealing with the power sector. “We welcome the move (import restrictions). The process of evaluation remains the same and quality of equipment would need to be ensured,” Kumar told ET over phone.Sectoral financiers Power Finance Corp (PFC) and REC also do not have any formal communication from the government about the matter, but are likely to encourage companies to use local equipment. 77025801The power ministry may issue directions to the two lenders to restrict lending to projects based on imported equipment, a senior government official said.The government official said the power ministry is compiling lists of equipment available and those which are not available in the country. It is also compiling a list of raw material being imported for equipment making.“There have been no formal orders to PFC and REC but we are considering issuing some directions to the two companies. Financiers will also have to see that equipment testing and government permissions will be time consuming processes,” the official said.The power ministry in a recent order has mandated testing of all imported equipment used in power supply system for malware while putting a virtual ban on imports from ‘prior-reference’ countries such as China and Pakistan. Power and renewable energy minister R K Singh has said India imported power equipment worth ₹71,000 crore in 2018-19 of which ₹21,000 crore came from China.The order dated July 2 has mentioned possibilities of cyber-attacks on power system through trojans embedded in imported equipment which can have catastrophic effects and the potential to cripple the entire country. It mandated testing of all imported power equipment at certified laboratories designated by the power ministry.