New norms for special economic zones soon

Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: The government will soon issue fresh guidelines for the setting up of special economic zones (SEZs), even as applications for 225 such projects are pending clearances, Special Secretary (Commerce) G.K. Pillai said Wednesday.

The guidelines will cover issues such as processing areas, infrastructure, norms for approval of the master plan as also the town planning guidelines, Pillai told a seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

The official also spoke about the controversy that has cropped up on account of the government's SEZ policy announced last year, especially over the projected tax loss of 900 billion ($20 billion) over the next few years because of tax breaks for such projects.

"Our ministry has analysed this and feels that the net benefit to the government from indirect tax will be 450 billion," he said. "Tax rebates are needed for the development of infrastructure and attracting investments."

Pillai also brushed aside allegations that a large number of farmers have been displaced from their land because of SEZs, saying the 150 such special zones set up so far on 26,800 hectares had not encroached any farm land.

"Another 225 applications that are pending will cover 75,000 hectares which is a fraction of India's arable area. We need to keep a sense of proportion."

Anil G. Mukim, joint secretary in the commerce ministry, said industries in SEZs are expected to employ 500,000 people by end-2007 and invest 1,000 billion, including 250 billion in foreign investment.

"In 2005-06, the 18 operational SEZs exported 225 billion worth of products and employed 123,000 people," Mukim added.

Source: IANS
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