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Samsung to Finally Get Its FY21 Incentives Under PLI Scheme

An analysis of the Indian government clearing over Rs 500 crores of production-linked incentive benefits for Samsung after over 2 years.

Source and Citation: Article from ET Bureau published on Dec 30, 2023 originally titled “Samsung to Finally Get Its FY21 Incentives Under PLI Scheme”

Analysis of this news for a layman

The Indian government has given approval for and disbursed production-linked incentives (PLI) worth over Rs 500 crores to Samsung under the smartphone manufacturing promotion scheme.

Samsung had initially applied for nearly double this amount – Rs 900 crores – after successfully meeting the specified targets for incremental production at its Noida facilities back in FY21.

However, during the audit process by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), certain discrepancies were found in Samsung’s claims and invoices, leading to delays of over two years. These issues have now been resolved, resulting in the release of the revised subsidy amount.

The PLI scheme offers financial incentives to global phone makers and contract manufacturers in exchange for meeting production and investment requirements in India. The delayed clearance reflects the extensive documentation process followed by MeitY for scrutinizing and verifying claims.

With Samsung expected to apply for its FY23 incentives as well, this approval underscores the government’s supportive stance and commitment to assisting anchor investors whose contributions to the manufacturing ecosystem have been unparalleled so far.

Samsung to Finally Get Its FY21 Incentives Under PLI Scheme

Impact on Retail Investors

For Indian smartphone sector investors, the clearance of Samsung’s long-pending PLI incentives has several implications:

Positives:

  • The government’s practical approach to resolving procedural hurdles under complex schemes encourages large-scale manufacturing commitments.
  • Samsung is likely to expedite the rollout of new facilities with the approval of more incentives, benefiting not only Samsung itself but also its tier 2/3 suppliers.

Negatives:

  • The significant time lag between investments and the realization of incentives can dampen the return on investment (RoI) for investors, posing a barrier to attracting diverse players beyond Chinese and Korean export-focused majors through the PLI route.

While this highlights the government’s commitment to solving problems, the delays also reveal structural issues related to staggered incentives tied to export and investment criteria, which present execution challenges that need to be addressed for the “Make in India” initiative to scale across broader manufacturing categories.

Impact on Industries

Certain Indian industries will see tangible effects from the clearance of Samsung’s substantial pending PLI incentives:

Domestic Mobile Phone Ancillaries:

The additional impetus for Samsung to increase local supplies beyond just displays and PCBs is likely to result in more categories, such as semiconductor packaging units, receiving fresh orders.

EMS Manufacturing:

Samsung’s Surface Mount Technology facilities for smartphone manufacturing will necessitate stronger Eco System Partnerships locally. This will create opportunities for sub-assembly specialist EMS providers like Dixon, Optiemus, and Savi to participate more extensively.

Handset Retail:

The resolution of the PLI incentives backlog offers clarity in the supply chain, which instills optimism among retailers regarding Samsung’s 2023 device portfolio sales outlook. It also allows for expanded consumer promotion budgets.

The resolution of this issue uplifts the dynamics of a broader mobile phone manufacturing ecosystem beyond just the company that claimed the incentives.

Long Term Benefits & Negatives

The long-term impact of resolving procedural delays around PLI incentives for anchor investors like Samsung includes:

Positives:

  • India’s credibility among mobile device manufacturers as an investment destination is upheld, reducing risk perceptions regarding the execution of complex schemes.
  • Compliance processes are structurally upgraded, with the help of external consultants, enabling swift claims processing in the future based on lessons learned.
  • India becomes an attractive alternative for global manufacturers looking to mitigate geopolitical risks, with production-linked incentives maximizing local scale benefits.

Negatives:

  • Balancing safeguards with an accommodative stance risks perceptions of regulatory capture if procedural exemptions are inconsistently allowed for specific entities.
  • Incentive structures that cascade may lead to disputes globally. There is a need to shift gradually toward outcome-focused measures using import substitution and export growth as criteria to determine policy success.
  • Heavy reliance on large established East-Asian companies constrains the development of indigenous design or manufacturing capabilities at the component or system levels.

While this affirms the government’s support for manufacturing, a pragmatic policy evolution is needed to enable diversified ownership bases to emerge in the long term.

Short Term Benefits & Negatives

In the short term (2023-24), the resolution of Samsung’s PLI incentive backlog is likely to lead to the following impacts:

Positives:

  • The resolution boosts investment sentiment in the viability of the PLI scheme, enticing new applications in handset and other categories. It serves as an example of procedural bottlenecks being resolved, not just the processing of applications.
  • Reviews of existing claiming processes across central schemes allow for refinements using a consultative approach rather than imposing unilateral solutions post penalties for delays. This uplifts the perception of the business environment as it undergoes course corrections.

Negatives:

  • Quick fixes run the risk of overlooking the need for broader technology upgrades in incentive disbursal systems, which are tied to monitoring export obligations and use-based criteria.
  • If the resolution of incentives backlog is perceived as allowing tweaks to qualifying norms inconsistently for one entity, it may lead to litigation from other serious and compliant investors who may feel disadvantaged relative to those who received special treatment.

In conclusion, improving the investor experience requires addressing the root causes of procedural delays through administrative reforms that balance fairness and competitiveness, rather than quick surface-level fixes.

Impact of Samsung Receiving PLI Incentive:

Indian Companies Likely to Gain:

  • Component and Material Suppliers:
    • Companies like Bharat Forge, Sundaram Clayton, and Dixon Technologies might see increased demand for components and materials due to Samsung’s potential production boost.
    • Market Sentiment: Positive, with potential stock price increases due to higher revenue expectations.
  • Retailers and Distributors:
    • Smartphone retailers like Croma and Reliance Digital could benefit from increased sales of Samsung phones spurred by the received incentive.
    • Market Sentiment: Neutral to positive, depending on the extent of sales boost and profit margins.
  • Logistics and Warehousing Companies:
    • Players like Blue Dart and Mahindra Logistics might see higher demand for their services as Samsung expands its production and distribution network.
    • Market Sentiment: Neutral to positive, depending on the volume of contracts secured.

Indian Companies Potentially Impacted:

  • Local Smartphone Manufacturers:
    • Companies like Micromax and Lava might face increased competition from Samsung due to its enhanced production capacity and potential price reductions.
    • Market Sentiment: Neutral to slightly negative, depending on their ability to compete on price and features.

Global Companies Likely to Gain:

  • Apple’s Contract Manufacturers:
    • Companies like Wistron, Pegatron, and Foxconn could benefit from continued strong demand for iPhones in India, potentially attracting further investments.
    • Market Sentiment: Positive, with potential long-term market share growth in India.
  • Global Component and Material Suppliers:
    • Companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Corning might see increased demand for their components and materials due to rising smartphone production in India.
    • Market Sentiment: Positive, with potential revenue and stock price growth.

Global Companies Potentially Impacted:

  • Other Global Smartphone Manufacturers:
    • Companies like Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo might face stiffer competition from Samsung in the Indian market due to its increased production capacity.
    • Market Sentiment: Neutral to slightly negative, depending on their individual market share and competitive strategies.

Disclaimer: This analysis is based on available information and future outcomes might differ. Always consult with a financial advisor for personalized investment advice.

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