A little bit of push can do wonders for SEZs: Vinay Sharma, EPCES
Ahmad Shariq Khan
Apart from doing justice to its given mandate of earning precious foreign exchange for the country, the units in SEZs and the EOUs are playing a critical role not just in economic development of the country but also in nation building, and with a little push the sector can do wonders for the country’s economy, said Vinay Sharma, Acting Chairman, Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs (EPCES).
According to Sharma, unlike many Govt projects that have so far made not much progress including the recently announced manufacturing hubs that have long gestation periods and the coastal manufacturing hubs that are yet to see the light of the day, SEZs offer ease of doing business (EODB) in the true sense.
“EOUs and SEZs are primarily meant for exports. Today, if any foreign investor asks for say 200 acres of land to set up a factory, they face activists, NGOs and other interested locals and the projects thus get delayed whereas in the SEZs such space can be provided hassle free - upto 500 acres without facing any problems. The investor can start construction in no time after getting ‘Single-Window Clearance’ and meet their investment objectives,” Sharma said while speaking at the EPCES' 15th foundation day function on Tuesday in New Delhi.
Highlighting the role and importance of SEZs and EOUs in fulfilling the various economic and social development goals of various state governments, Sharma said, “SEZs and EOUs can play a key role in pushing the agendas of the Government’s flagship campaigns including Make in India, Skill India, Exports from India, and Rural employment.”
While urging the Government to help in meeting some of the sector’s demand, he said, “The promises made in the SEZ Act 2005 had created an atmosphere of positive investment growth which still can be achieved if the original SEZ Act is restored.”
“Had there been no tinkering with the Act with the imposition of MAT and DDT and thereafter Sunset Clause, this segment could have changed the industrial scenario in the country and could have beaten China also,” felt Sharma.
While pointing to what he called a grim reality faced by the EOUs in the country, he added “The EOUs were the first to push exports from India with “Make in India”, but this movement has lost its charm due to least attention to this segment. There is an immediate requirement of a revival of EOUs business and environment for the larger interests of local economy, employment generation and forex earnings.”
While terming the GST as a welcome move, Sharma also spoke about few GST related irritants which as per him seem to be unintentional but need to be corrected. “GST rate of 18% on the export of services from SEZs is leading to exports of taxes. If not corrected immediately, the services segment of SEZs business may move to other countries including as close as Sri Lanka or the new entrant Nepal or the Far East,” said Sharma.
The said EPCES event saw attendance of several dignitaries, which included G.K. Pillai, former Commerce Secretary, Arun Goyal, Special Secretary, GST Council of India, Dr. L.B. Singhal, Development Commissioner, Noida SEZ, Yogendra Garg, Additional Director General, GST Council of India, G.K. Gupta, President, FIEO, Ajay Sahai, Director General, FIEO, D.S. Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM, and other senior officers of Central Government and members of EOUs and SEZs fraternity.