Govt reviewing SEZ, FTA regulations, Companies Act: commerce minister

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14 June 2014

The government will review the rules and regulations relating to Special Economic Zones (SEZ) as also the Companies Act so as to clear impediments in the way of investment flows, union commerce minister Nirmala Seetharaman said today.

The new government at the centre had also proposed a review of all existing free trade pacts (FTAs) signed with other countries, she said. The minister had, on Friday, met prime minister Narendra Modi for an update on the concerns of the Indian industry based on her discussions with business organisations.

Modi is scheduled to meet the secretaries of the commerce and revenue departments today to discuss issues pertaining to Special Economic Zones (SEZs), including restoration of tax benefits.

The commerce ministry has already started talks with the finance ministry on doing away with Minimum Alternate Tax of 18. 5 per cent and dividend distribution tax of 10 per cent, which were imposed on SEZ units in 2011-12 despite the SEZ rules promising tax holidays for specified periods.

"The SEZ Act has posed lots of difficulties which are affecting all the stakeholders. All these will be discussed and necessary actions will be taken," she said, adding that necessary instructions have been given to the department officials to get into this.

The commerce minister said a major consultation meeting is scheduled for next Saturday to discuss the Companies Act. The ministry has invited all the stakeholders to attend the meeting.

On the free trade agreements (FTAs), she said, the ministry will take up a comprehensive review in the next 15 day.

"FTAs, which were signed by India with various countries, were not leveraged in some cases," she said.

There is a mixed reaction to FTAs and not every FTA is benefited. "We need to look at this so that in the future we learn our lessons and not to replicate them again."

"All this does not mean going back on the decisions of previous government. We want to resolve issues so that that we can impede investment and create more jobs," Seetharaman said.

Seetharaman said she would be meeting the salt pan workers in Tamil Nadu to increase salt production in the state, which is the largest salt production base next to Gujarat.





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