Govt gives extra time to 18 SEZ developers to execute projects

The Board of Approval (BoA), an inter-ministerial body that deals with SEZs and related issues, also allowed six developers to surrender their tax free enclaves. Ajanta Projects (India) Ltd, which had requested to surrender its two SEZs cited global economic slowdown and uncertainty regarding applicability of various provisions of Direct Tax Code as primary reason for the move.

Tata Consultancy Ltd had requested for additional time for its sector specific SEZ for IT/ITeS in West Bengal, a senior commerce ministry official said. Gitanjali Gems Ltd has got extension for the second time for its sector specific SEZ for Gems & Jewellery at Panvel, Maharashtra, he said.

Interest in SEZs, which give substantial tax benefits to units and developers, is on the decline, as the draft Direct Taxes Code (DTC) of the government proposes to curtail the sops. The DTC Bill, if cleared by Parliament, will overhaul the country's Income Tax Act.

SEZs have emerged as a major source for attracting investment and increasing exports. The BoA headed by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar also approved two proposals to set up a IT/ITeS and a handicraft tax free zone. Direct employment in SEZs is pegged at 5.5 lakh people and the zones have attracted investments in excess of Rs 1.66 lakh crore.

Exports from the 122 operational SEZs in the country during April-September 2010-11 grew by 56 per cent to Rs 1,39,841 crore during over the year-ago period.

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