The union government will soon roll out a web-based platform for special economic zones (SEZs) to raise their concerns and provide details of action taken by the authority concerned, a top Union Commerce Ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi on Thursday.
“This will provide a platform for constant dialogue and transparency in resolution of issues. I intend to roll it out as soon as possible,” said Alok V. Chaturvedi, additional secretary, Department of Commerce while inaugurating 10th SEZ Convention organized by ASSOCHAM.
“The software is already in place, we need to adopt it for our requirement, efforts have already been made in this direction,”said Chaturvedi. He added that the online platform would be on the lines of a Project Monitoring Group system in the Cabinet Secretariat.
Highlighting the issue of lifting of Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) and Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) concerning the SEZ sector, he said MAT appeared to be unfair for SEZ units and it “is not in tune with the Government philosophy of stable tax regime, we have taken up the issue with Finance Ministry.”
“According to Finance Ministry, MAT has been imposed to partly recoup the loss of revenue due to profit-linked exemptions. They are bringing down average rate of corporate tax. However, we have taken it up again in view of adverse export conditions and the stellar role played by SEZ in the export growth and the employment generation,” he said.
“Alternative suggestions regarding reduction of MAT from 20.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent or extension of period of ten years till the entire MAT credit is adjusted against the tax liability of SEZ will also be taken up with Finance Department,” he added.
Talking about the issue of permitting SEZ units to perform job work for units in Domestic Tariff Area, which at present is not permissible, Chaturvedi said, “In order to facilitate integration of SEZs with domestic economy, the procedure for job work and domestic clearances from SEZs need to be streamlined by amending SEZ Rules. There is an issue as SEZs are primarily for exports and they have taken the benefit of concessions.”
On the issue of permitting exports from SEZs to the domestic tariff area, at the most favourable tariff rates as given to India’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners, he said, “This would give a boost to the ‘Make in India,’campaign and our import requirement can be met through manufacturing in SEZs rather than through import of the same goods from FTA partners such as Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, etc. We have taken up this issue also with the Finance Ministry.”
CBDT has proposed to provide a sunset date of March 31, 2017 for tax exemption in respect of SEZ projects having non-operational by then.