Shastry V. Mallady

Approved zones have caused revenue loss: Athreya

MADURAI: The Government should not give excessive concessions to Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and only modest concessions should be given to industries setting up units to avoid revenue loss to the State exchequer, Venkatesh B. Athreya, Director (Food Security Studies), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, has said.

According to him, the SEZ Act must be modified to provide only limited concessions or else companies and individuals would enjoy tax concessions on a continued basis.

Talking to The Hindu on Tuesday, Dr. Athreya pointed out that the Left parties were advocating only moderate concessions as a document prepared by the Finance Ministry indicated a revenue loss of more than one lakh crore rupees for the 130-odd SEZs approved already.

He also objected to the tax benefits given to IT companies who regularly shifted their units from one zone to another for enjoying tax holidays/concessions continuously.

Dr. Athreya was here to deliver a special lecture on `Special Economic Zone,' organised by the Madurai Kamaraj-Manonmaniam Sundaranar-Mother Teresa-Alagappa University Teachers' Association (MUTA).

Regional imbalance

He also expressed concern over the location of SEZs only in a few States thereby leading to regional imbalances.

"The Government should allot the zones to all States and careful measures were required in their location," Dr. Athreya said.

He called for proper labour relations in the special zones and said that the Left parties had already put forth certain suggestions to the Central Government to protect labour welfare.

Asked about the issues raised on land acquisition, he said that there should be a careful allocation instead of `land grabbing.'

Dr. Athreya addressed the economics and commerce teachers and students from various colleges on how the concept of SEZ was evolved from the earlier version of Free Trade Zone.

The joint secretary of MUTA (Zone 2), S. Thiagarajan, in his address, said that a larger awareness of pros and cons of the issue was required.