The government has approved proposals of four special economic zone developers, including Phoenix Embassy Tech Zone, to set up SEZs in the country. The decision was taken at the meeting of Board of Approval (BoA) on January 6.BoA is a 19-member inter-ministerial body chaired by the commerce secretary.
The other three developers who got the green signal are Worldwide Oilfield Machine, Embassy Property Developments and Horizoneview properties. Worldwide Oilfield Machine has proposed to set up an engineering-specific SEZ in Pune spread over 58.23 hectares.
Embassy Property Developments, Horizonview Properties and Phoenix Embassy Tech Zone have planned to set up IT/ITeS SEZs in various locations in the country. However, the board deferred the proposals of L&T Constructions Equipment as “recommendation of the State government was awaited,” an official said.
According to an industry expert, the increase in number of proposals to set up new zones reflects a gradual increase of investor interest in SEZs, which act as export hubs. After the government imposed minimum alternate tax and dividend distribution tax, SEZs started losing their appeal. The developers and units want the government to withdraw or significantly reduce taxes.
The Commerce Ministry has been demanding its finance counterpart not to abolish the tax incentives being enjoyed by SEZs as their removal would hurt exports and job creation. Developers and units in SEZs enjoy certain tax holidays and other procedural benefits. The government is considering doing away with tax exemptions to various sectors gradually, including SEZs.
Exports from the SEZs logged a marginal growth of 0.77 per cent at Rs 4.67 lakh crore in 2015-16. Exports from such 204 SEZs stood at Rs 4.63 lakh crore in 2014-15.
According to Commerce Ministry data, as on March 31, these SEZs have attracted investments worth Rs 3.76 lakh crore and have generated employment for 15.91 lakh people.