SEZ units demand more concessions from govt

Export-oriented units and SEZs in the country on Friday demanded more tax concessions and government attention in order to contribute towards the manufacturing sector to increase GDP growth.

Unbundling their woes at an interaction organised by the Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs (EPCES), in association with the Cochin Special Economic Zone here on Friday, participants demanded more credit facilitation and withdrawal of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) as early as possible.  Addressing delegates, Director General (Export Promotion) from the Department of Revenue Ram Tirath said the EOU/SEZ sector is contributing significantly in terms of manufacturing, exports, investments and employment generation in the country.  “The exports from SEZs during 2012-13 are at Rs 4,76,159 crore representing a growth of 31 per cent over the exports of the corresponding period of 2011-12,” he said.

Speaking at the open meet, EPCES Chairman P C Nambiar informed EPCES is the only Export Promotion Council which is scheme-specific and multi-products Export Promotion Council in the country. “EPCES has been servicing to EOU/SEZ Sector since its inception in 2003.  The contribution of EOU/SEZ Sector to national exports is one-third and they are generating employment to approximately 15 lakh people in the country,” Nambiar said.
A few members who attended the meeting also appreciated the Ministry for Commerce and Industry for reducing the land requirement for SEZ while presenting the Annual Supplement Trade Policy 2009-14.  “Some sops to SEZs by reducing the land requirement by 50 per cent and linking it to the built up area criteria will renew the interest in the SEZ scheme but the corresponding notifications in this regard are yet to be issued soon. Some concessions on the tax front need to be given to SEZ units to make them engines of economic growth of the country,” a member said.

Of 577 approved SEZs in the country, 389 have been notified and 170 are in operation. The remaining 219 SEZs are yet to become operational. In order to attract investments and generate employment, the emphasis should be to make these SEZs operational.
“The applicability of MAT/DDT on SEZ developers and units has  adversely affected the growth, investments, employment and exports from SEZs in India and resulted in loss of invaluable foreign exchange for the country. This has created a lot of uncertainty in the minds of SEZ developers and has sent  wrong signals to the international investor community which is looking at India for its resources of skills and manpower,” Nambiar said.

Participants also demanded that EPCES expedite its efforts to convince the Finance Ministry to extend the cutoff date for zones that would come under the proposed Direct Taxes Code beyond April 1, 2012 and MAT at its original initial rate of 7.5 per cent when introduced in 2000. “Since we are going through economic meltdown which paved the way for poor market response, it is high time that the government comes up with more concessions,” a member said.

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