During the last three years and the current fiscal up to January, the commerce ministry has granted more time to as many as 143 developers of SEZ to complete their projects, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that some SEZs developers have sought additional time for the execution of their projects for various reasons including adverse business climate due to global recession, delay in approvals from statutory bodies and delay in environmental clearance.
"During the last three years and the current financial year (up to January, 2017), BoA (Board of Approval) has granted more time to 143 developers of SEZ across the country to complete their projects," she said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
BoA is a 19-member inter-ministerial body headed by the commerce secretary.
These zones are export hubs that account for about 23 per cent of the country's total exports.
They enjoy certain tax and other benefits including exemptions from central sales tax, service tax and exemption from income tax for 15 years.
Replying to a separate question, the minister said as many as 141 special economic zones (SEZs) which have been approved are yet to be developed.
As on December last year, 206 SEZs are operational.
She informed that the maximum number of operational SEZs (units which have started exports) are in Tamil Nadu (36), Telangana (27) followed by Maharashtra (26), Karnataka (25) and Andhra Pradesh (19).
Exports from these zones during April-December 2016 stood at Rs 3.58 lakh crore. It was Rs 4.67 lakh crore in 2015-16.
Replying to a separate question, Sitharaman said as per reports available, some exporters are found to have "artificially inflated" their exports to avail financial benefits during the last three years.
"The regional office concerned has taken appropriate action under Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, 1992 as amended including cancelling the duty credit scrips and imposing a penalty in such cases," she added.