Special Correspondent

Further simplification of procedures likely

NEW DELHI: The special economic zones (SEZs) are a vital instrument not only for boosting India's exports but also for generating employment, creating world-class infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, said here.

Addressing the awards function of the Export Promotion Council for Export Oriented Units (EOUs) and SEZs here on Friday, Mr. Kamal Nath said that establishment of SEZs would lead to faster growth of labour-intensive manufacturing and services. "In the next five years, if all the projects get implemented, investments by SEZ developers are expected to be over $60 billion (Rs. 300,000 crore). By December 2007, it was expected that investments of Rs. 100,000 crore, including Rs. 25,000 crore FDI would take place in the SEZs.

The zones were expected to employ five lakh people by December 2007.

"Many SEZs are recruiting people from rural areas and providing them training for operations in the SEZs, as we have seen from the gem and jewellery SEZ in Hyderabad, textiles units in Mahindra SEZ in Chennai and other new SEZs like Nokia, Flextronics in Chennai, Apache SEZ, Brandix Apparel SEZ, Divi Laboratories in Andhra Pradesh and Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park in Chandigarh,'' he said.

The Minister also indicated that there could be further simplification of SEZ procedures following the workshop to be chaired by the Commerce Secretary, G. K. Pillai, here on Saturday to discuss suggestions which had been received from all the stakeholders, especially in the context of SEZ Rules which had been in operation for nearly a year now and were in need of continuous updating.

Referring to the issue of rehabilitation and land acquisition, Mr. Kamal Nath underlined that the State governments had a proactive role in implementing the SEZ scheme.