BKC as SEZ to woo global firms?

  • Saurabh Katkurwar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 09, 2015 00:40 IST

The Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) could soon turn into a special economic zone – the state government’s latest move to woo global companies to set up base in the city.

Giving the commercial hub the special economic zone (SEZ) tag would make it an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), on the lines of India’s first IFSC, the Gujarat International Financial Tec-City – a pet project of PM Narendra Modi when he served as the chief minister of Gujarat.

In fact, a panel appointed by the previous UPA regime had suggested the country’s first IFSC be set up in Mumbai.

With the SEZ policy, the government can provide global companies with several sops such as duty free import and exemption from taxes, including central sales tax and service tax.

The plan to attract investors for the proposed IFSC has been on the state’s agenda for a while. In April, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build two towers in BKC that can boast of the kind of infrastructure that will bring in investors.

“We are working on the plan to set up the IFSC at BKC. Global investors need tax benefits and good logistics if we want them to set up their offices here and to achieve this, there is a legal requirement to convert BKC into a special economic zone,” said Sanjay Sethi, MMRDA additional commissioner.

MMRDA said it will develop the IFSC under the IT SEZ category, which seeks a minimum built-up area of one lakh sqm.

An IT SEZ is one of three principle SEZ categories, the other two being the multi-product SEZ (requires a minimum land of 500 hectares) and sector-specific SEZ (requires 50 hectares). At present, BKC has 96 hectares of developed land, of which around 30 hectares are yet to be utilised.

For the setting up of an IFSC, the state has to pass a law to create an SEZ Act. In the past, political interference has blocked the state’s attempts to formulate such an act.

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