Coronavirus: Commerce ministry provides relaxations in filing compliance report to SEZs

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Published: March 30, 2020 5:41:27 PM

In view of the sudden outbreak of the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, most government offices are closed and a few involved in emergency services are functioning with skeletal staff, it said in a statement.

SEZs, developed as export hubs, are treated as a foreign territory in terms of customs laws.SEZs, developed as export hubs, are treated as a foreign territory in terms of customs laws.

The commerce ministry on Monday announced certain relaxations in filing compliance reports for units and developers of special economic zones (SEZs) as most of the government offices are closed due to the nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It said no punitive action should be taken in cases where any compliance is not met during this period.

In view of the sudden outbreak of the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, most government offices are closed and a few involved in emergency services are functioning with skeletal staff, it said in a statement.

“The Department of Commerce has therefore decided to provide suitable relaxations on compliances to be met by units/ developers/ co-developers of SEZs,” it said.

Compliances to which the relaxations will apply include the requirement to file quarterly progress report attested by independent chartered engineers, and filing of annual performance reports by SEZ units.

Further, extension of Letters of Approval (LoAs) will be facilitated for those developers/co-developers who are in the process of developing and operationalising the SEZ; units which are likely to complete their 5-year block for NFE (net foreign exchange) assessment; and units which are yet to commence operations.

“Development Commissioners of SEZs have been directed to ensure that no hardship is caused to developers / co-developer / units and no punitive action is taken in cases where any compliance is not met during this period impacted by the disruption,” the ministry said.

It also said that if possible, all extensions of LoAs and other compliances may be facilitated through electronic mode in a time-bound manner.

In the cases where it is not possible to grant extension through electronic mode or in cases where a physical meeting is required, it said development commissioners have been asked to ensure that the SEZs do not face any hardship due to such expiry of validity during this period of disruption.

“Adhoc interim extension/ deferment of the expiry date may be granted without prejudice till June 30, 2020, or further instructions of the department on the matter, whichever is earlier,” it added.

SEZs, developed as export hubs, are treated as a foreign territory in terms of customs laws. These zones enjoy certain incentives including a single-window clearance system.

Export Promotion Council for SEZs and Export Oriented Units Vice-Chairman Bhuvnesh Seth has sought support measures, including restoration of tax benefits to these zones and other measures to give a boost to these zones.

Exports from these zones stood at over Rs 7 lakh crore in 2018-19.

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