Land norms eased for SEZs to rekindle investors’ interest

SEZsNEW DELHI: Amid dwindling interest in SEZs, the government today announced a “package of reforms”, including easing of land requirement norms and an exit policy, to rekindle investor interest in Special Economic Zones.

“…the SEZ scheme has not been able to realize its full potential so far. We have undertaken a comprehensive review of the SEZ Policy … I am happy to announce a package of reforms for reviving investor interest in SEZs,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said.

SEZ, once a major attraction for investors, lost the sheen following imposition of MAT and DDT, certain provisions in the proposed direct tax regime (DTC) besides the global slowdown.

Announcing the supplementary foreign trade policy (FTP), Sharma said the government has taken note “of the fact” that there are acute difficulties in aggregating large tracts of uncultivable land which is vacant to set up SEZ.

“…we have decided to reduce the Minimum Land Area Requirement by half for different categories of SEZs,” he said.

For multiproduct SEZ, minimum land requirement has been brought down from 1000 hectares to 500 hectares and for Sector-Specific SEZs, it has been brought down to 50 hectares.

Also, there would be no minimum land requirement for setting up IT\ITES SEZs, besides easing of minimum built up area criteria.

Sharma further said the government has received feedback from SEZ units that suggested they are placed at a severe disadvantage in absence of exit policy.

“We have now decided to allow transfer of ownership of SEZ units including sale” he announced.

The 170 functional SEZs – export oriented enclaves – have attracted investment of over Rs 2.36 lakh crore and exports from them totaled Rs 4.76 lakh crore in 2012-13, a growth of over 2,000 per cent over the 7 year period.

While the Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs welcomed the steps, it said government should have withdrawn the minimum alternate tax (MAT) as well.-PTI

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