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Coming soon, a web-based platform for special economic zones

The online platform, developed on the lines of a Project Monitoring Group system in the Cabinet Secretariat, will result in a constant dialogue between the stake holders and help increase transparency in the system
Special economic zones : For representational purposes only

The Union government will soon roll out a web-based platform for special economic zones (SEZs) to raise their concerns and details of action taken be provided by the authority concerned. The online platform, developed on the lines of a Project Monitoring Group system in the Cabinet Secretariat, will result in a constant dialogue between the stakeholders and help increase transparency in the system.

This was stated by Alok V Chaturvedi, additional secretary, Department of Commerce, while inaugurating the 10th SEZ Convention organized by ASSOCHAM . “The software is already in place, we need to adopt it for our requirement. Efforts have already been made in this direction,” he said.

Stating that the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) was unfair for SEZ units and is not in tune with the government philosophy of stable tax regime, he remarked that the issue was being deliberated upon with the Finance Ministry.

“According to Finance Ministry, MAT has been imposed to partly recoup the loss of revenue due to profit-linked exemptions. They are bringing down average rate of corporate tax. However, we have taken it up again in view of adverse export conditions and the stellar role played by SEZ in the export growth and the employment generation,” he said.

“Alternative suggestions regarding reduction of MAT from 20.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent or extension of period of ten years till the entire MAT credit is adjusted against the tax liability of SEZ will also be taken up with Finance Department,” he added.

Talking about the issue of permitting SEZ units, to perform job work for units in Domestic Tariff Area, which at present is not permissible, Chaturvedi said, “In order to facilitate integration of SEZs with domestic economy, the procedure for job work and domestic clearances from SEZs need to be streamlined by amending SEZ Rules. There is an issue there as SEZs are primarily for exports and they have taken the benefit of concessions.”

“We need to resolve these issues. This is all the more important since it is becoming increasing difficult to have land for setting up industries elsewhere. The issue is being examined in consultation with Finance Ministry,” he added.

On the issue of permitting exports from SEZs to the domestic tariff area, at the most favourable tariff rates as given to India’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners, he said, “This would give a boost to the ‘Make in India,’ campaign and our import requirement can be met through manufacturing in SEZs rather than through import of the same goods from FTA partners such as Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, etc. We have taken up this issue also with the Finance Ministry.”
He also said that there is a need to have a relook at the Free Trade Warehousing Zone Policy.

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