Sandeep Joshi

Call for uniform rules and guidelines in States

They want abolition of ceiling on land holdings

NEW DELHI: Though the special economic zone (SEZ) developers are happy with the basic framework of policies and norms formulated by the Centre, the lack of cooperation from the State Government and some policy-related matters and operational issues have become a matter of concern for them.

SEZ developers feel that matter related to land acquisition, tax exemptions and lack of ‘single window clearance’ mechanism is leading to unnecessary delays in execution of various projects.

They are also worried over the non-uniformity of SEZ Acts and rules framed by various State Governments.

The Export Promotion Council for Export Oriented Units and SEZs (EPCES) Panel for SEZ Developers has been trying hard to convince the Union government, particularly the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that is responsible for sanctioning of SEZs, to ask the State Governments to have identical rules and guidelines for development of SEZs, so that SEZ developers can implement their projects faster.

Foremost requirement

Talking to The Hindu, convener of EPCES Panel for SEZ Developers, Ajay Nijhawan, said that the first and foremost requirement was setting up of a single window clearance mechanism in various zones so that a developer does not have to get multiple clearances from various authorities in a State.

“The Centre has deputed Development Commissioners in various regions whose job is to coordinate with the State Governments. However, it is not simple as multiplicity of authorities and separate rules and regulations in States make the task difficult. For instance, the Development Commissioner of North region has to deal with seven State Governments. We want that each State Government should depute a competent authority at the Development Commissioner’s office to facilitate setting up of SEZs in his State through single window mechanism,” Mr. Nijhawan said.

The State should enable single window clearance for all planning requirements. And in case of multi-product SEZs, the States must empower the Development Commissioners with powers to approve the development and building plans.

Tax exemptions

SEZ developers also want some changes in policies related to tax exemptions and stamp duty. “The Central Act provides for exemption of stamp duty for which the Stamp Act has been duly amended. But the State Governments are following different practices for refund. States must provide stamp duty exemption to the developers who have been given in-principal approval, and instead of refund, the State should secure a bank guarantee that is released once the SEZ is notified.”

“Same approach should also be adopted while dealing with issues related to local taxes. This will allow developers to have extra money in his hands that could be utilised in the development of SEZs,” Mr. Nijhawan said. The SEZ developers have also demanded abolition of ceiling on land holdings and encourage them to establish infrastructure.