SEZ developers plead for time; several face axe

18 February 2015

The union ministry of commerce could cancel formal approvals given for setting up as many as 14 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by Deccan Infrastructure and Land Holdings Ltd (DILL), a company floated by the government of the former undivided Andhra Pradesh.

According to the agenda of the Board of Approval (BoA) under the commerce ministry, 12 of these SEZs are located in the newly-formed state of Telangana, while the remaining two are in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the developers of as many as 31 SEZs, including Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Zydus Technologies, have sought more time from the government for implementing their projects.

All these requests will be considered by the BoA, headed by commerce secretary Rajeev Kher, on 20 February.

The BoA is a 19-member inter-ministerial body that deals with SEZ-related matters.

Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a unit in Dahej SEZ Ltd, has sought extension of its Letter of Permission beyond 2 December 2014.

"The unit has requested for further extension so as to implement the project... The unit has invested Rs564.52 crore on the project and employed 280 people.

"It has completed construction of factory building, installation of plant and machinery and its support infrastructure," the BoA agenda said.

Other developers who have sought more time include Smart City (Kochi) Infrastructure, Saraf Agencies and Golden Tower Infratech.

Further, the BoA will also consider the proposal of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd to set up multi-product zone in Gujarat.

The Board would also take up the applications of 57 developers, including JSW Aluminium Ltd and Parsvnath, which have decided to surrender their SEZ approval applications.

Out of 57 SEZs, 35 tax-free enclaves are in the IT/ITeS sector, while other sectors include engineering, biotechnology, gems and jewellery, pharmaceuticals and textiles.

In this backdrop, the government is considering relaxing the tax regime for the SEZs to revive investor confidence as these zones are major export hubs.

The commerce ministry, in its budget proposals, has urged the finance minister to remove minimum alternate tax (MAT) and dividend distribution tax (DDT).

Meanwhile, exports from these zones increased from Rs22,840 crore in 2005-06 to Rs4,94,000 crore in 2013-14.

The ministry is struggling to increase exports as the country's shipments in the last three years have been hovering around $300 billion.

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