The government would soon announce some amendments pertaining to the rules of the controversial Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act, 2005 as approved by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) for which the notifications would be issued by the end of this month.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference in Kolkata, G K Pillai, secretary of the central ministry of commerce & industry, said, “The list of amendments of the SEZ rules would be announced and the notifications would be issued by the end of this month.”
However he mentioned only three of the amendments which would be incorporated in the existing SEZ Act.
According to the amendments suggested, area for the handicrafts SEZs would be reduced from 100 hectare to 10 hectares, while all service tax paid for all the authorized activities pertaining to the SEZ carried out both inside and outside the periphery of the SEZ would be refunded and suppliers from the domestic tariff area (DTA) supplying to SEZ developers would be given the benefit of Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) scheme or drawback scheme under export incentive schemes.
He mentioned that the government would be looking into ensuring financial autonomy of Development Commissioners of SEZs. "We are hopeful that the SEZ Authority rules would be finalised by this month end, which will give Development Commissioners Office more financial autonomy and the rent collected will be available to improve the SEZs," said Pillai. When asked about the possibility of seperate labour laws for the SEZ units, Pillai pointed out that the SEZ act had clearly mentioned that the existing labour laws would be applicable to SEZ units.
Speaking on the ban imposed on future trading of some essential commodities and also export of steel, Pillai said that there would be a cabinet committee meeting on prices on Thursday.
Export from Export Oriented units (EOUs) and SEZs rose to Rs 2,08,849 crore in 2007-08.
Exports from EOUs this year was Rs 142211 crore, up 103 per cent over last year, while export from SEZs this year was Rs 66638 crore, up 92 per cent up over last year.
In another interactive session organised by the Federation Of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and Chemicals and Allied Products Export Promotion Council (CAPEXIL), Pillai said a meeting with the Shipping ministry was due in the next two weeks on dredging of the Kolkata-Haldia Hoogly river channel as shipping movement was hit by shallow draft.
In addition to this, the road between Kolkata and Petrapole would be developed and for this land had to be acquired by the state government to build a world class road. A meeting on this would be held with the West Bengal Government soon but the state was taking a lot of time.
A sum of upto Rs 200 crore had been earmarked for upgradation of the Petrapole station under the Landport Authority.
The detailed project was ready and tenders would be floated shortly.