NEW DELHI: The empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on special economic zones is to meet on Thursday, earlier than expected, to decide on future government policy on the zones, including a freeze on new proposals.
Government officials said the meeting has been advanced from the earlier suggested date of 11 April since some of the members of the eGoM would not be available on that date. The group’s decisions do not have to be ratified by the Union cabinet.
If the eGoM gives the go-ahead for the 83 SEZs which are awaiting notification, the move would benefit several SEZs including the Brandix SEZ in Andhra Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh Industrial Corp.’s SEZ at Vishakapatnam, Cipla group’s Meditab SEZ in Goa, Maharashtra Airport Corp.’s multi-product SEZ in Nagpur, and Jindal Steel’s SEZ at Kalinga Nagar in Orissa.
“We are not suggesting any numbers. We’re hoping the e-GoM will take a stance on allowing SEZs which have already acquired land to go through,” said a government official who did not wish to be identified.
Other members of the eGoM, which is headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, include finance minister P. Chidambaram, law and justice minister H.R. Bhardwaj, minister of communication and IT Dayanidhi Maran, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, minister of science and technology and ocean development Kapil Sibal, and commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath.
The eGoM had last met on 22 January, when it decided to stop the entire SEZ process, except the issue of routine clearances to the 63 zones that had already been notified by the time. Tax benefits can be enjoyed by a developer of a zone only after it is notified by the law department as an SEZ.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Nilotpal Basu said the party did not have a plan to discuss the SEZ issue with the ruling United Progressive Alliance. He added that the party continued to stand by its call for a complete overhaul of the SEZ policy.
“The only addition is that we have asked the government to fix an upper limit on the land provided for multi-product SEZs, at 2,000 hectares,” said Basu. The CPI (M) has demanded a thorough examination of the requirement for SEZs by different industries.
The party, along with its three Left Front partners, has also called for an end to speculative activity in SEZ development, and a review of the tax incentives on offer.