The government’s ambitious International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) project will be delayed as the Centre has not decided on its proposal to approve a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on 20 hectares of land at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
The state government is in the final stage of appointing consultants for the project. Officials expect the appointment to happen by the first week of September.
However, the consultant will not be able to prepare the plan in the absence of a notification granting the earmarked BKC area the statute of a SEZ. “If we do not know the nitty-gritty of the SEZ plan, we cannot design the IFSC. The consultants will have to wait until the land is notified under the SEZ Act,” said a source.
Officials involved in the process are wary as the developers of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT)planned near Ahmedabad are aggressively wooing investors, while they are still waiting for approval from the Centre. Owing to its geographical location and facilities, the IFSC will be GIFT’s competitor with regard to attracting global investors and corporate houses, said officials.
The state government has to get the BKC area notified as a SEZ to woo investors as SEZ facilitates tax benefits and immunity from stringent labour laws. Benefits under the Act include duty-free import and domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
However, current norms under the SEZ Act demand a minimum of 50 hectares of land for the area to be notified as a SEZ. Thus, the state government had approached the ministry of commerce, seeking approval for setting up an SEZ by considering 50hectares in buildup area instead of plot size to meet the minimum land requirement for an SEZ.
Although the proposal had been sent a year ago, there have been no further developments. “We have been following up with the ministry for the past one year. However, it has not responded yet,” said a source.
In November last year, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had followed up the matter with the finance ministry. Ministry officials were said to have appeared positive. However, no developments have taken place as yet.