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New Delhi: The Center has set up three sub-committees to evaluate the multibillion-dollar proposals received under its ambitious India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) and aims to approve the first applications soon, people in the know told ET.
Vedanta-Foxconn; Five conglomerates, including Next Orbit Ventures—Tower Semiconductor (now owned by Intel) and Rajesh Exports—applied for incentives under the ISM’s $10 billion package are awaiting legal nod to set up semiconductor manufacturing units.
Sources aware of the development said members from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Industry Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) were part of the sub-committees that would strengthen the proposals.
‘Careful assessment of all aspects’
The second committee has been drafted from the ranks of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the third sub-committee has been drafted from the 21-member expert panel of ISM, comprising three domain experts, they added.
Committees are financially viable; Proposals are being evaluated on criteria including partners’ technical expertise and financial ability.
As these are “projects worth billions of dollars and will mean huge incentives from the Center and states,” he said. The government is evaluating proposals from all sides very carefully,” sources said. “Finally, Applicants must ensure that all arrangements are made. “The government needs to believe in their viability, but we need to have faith in MeitY from all sides,” the official added.
The Centre’s push for semiconductor manufacturing comes against the backdrop of disruptions in the global supply chain, with national security and strategic reasons driving demand for new fab units. It earlier said it would approve applications for ISM incentives in October.
The 21-member expert panel is chaired by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
“The NIIF team has been assembled since looking after the financing of large infrastructure projects, IFCI has expertise in e-manufacturing proposals to monitor PLI (Production Linked Incentive) scheme projects,” they said.
Finally, along with the 21-member expert panel, the recommendations of the third committee will be submitted to the government and will be approved by the government.
All three committees are working simultaneously to “avoid repetition,” officials said.
“We are currently negotiating with all the applicants. The committees are asking them to provide information and clarification on various aspects before moving forward,” said an official.
In April, the government appointed IT Minister Vaishnaw as chairman of ISM’s panel of experts. It was constituted with MeitY Rajeev Chandrasekhar as State Minister as Vice President and MeitY as Secretary.
The panel of experts included Intel Pentium developer and venture investor Vinod Dham; Industry experts including Ajit Manocha, president of US industry body SEMI, and Neelkanth Mishra of Credit Suisse.
“Even companies have their own legal teams and are sometimes wary of sharing highly confidential information. We have to convince them to give us that information to speed up the process. And we have to organize other ministries and the government as well. That will take time,” said a person familiar with the process.
Semiconductor Fabless Accelerator Lab (SFAL) CEO Muthukrishnan Chinnasamy said that while India is looking to establish itself as a major semiconductor manufacturing hub, it needs to address some aspects. “It requires sufficient cooperation from companies in terms of technology, strategy and customer commitments, and the delicate and complex nature of the production process requires a continuous supply of energy and water.”
To consistently innovate in a rapidly expanding market, Indian government organizations and private businesses will need to “invest billions of dollars” over a long period of time, Chinnasamy said.