The Union government on April 19 announced relief for special economic zones (SEZs) by tweaking the minimum-land-area requirement and allowing change in ownership. In its last supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), 2009-14, the Commerce Department, however, did not meet the much-awaited demand for doing away with the minimum alternate tax (MAT) on SEZs.
Union Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that he had conveyed exporters’ concerns to the finance ministry. The supplement stressed on measures to boost high-value exports of engineering products and the labour-intensive textiles sector. Though the department did not officially put a figure to it, the package announced could be to the tune Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 crore.
Sharma made changes to the popular export promotion capital goods (EPCG) scheme by merging the zero-duty EPCG scheme, which expired last month, with the three-per cent EPCG scheme. Besides, textile exporters also got the combined scheme — a merger of zero-duty EPCG scheme and the technology upgradation fund scheme. The two-per-cent interest subvention scheme for textile made-ups and engineering sectors was also extended.
For information technology (IT) SEZs, which contribute the most to SEZ exports, the minimum land criteria has been done away with. However, SEZ developers would have to fulfill a minimum built-up area criteria. These measures will be applicable for new SEZs.