The state government has decided to speak to stakeholders before amending the special economic zone (SEZ) policy. The government has been forced to revisit the policy after 14 investors withdrew from their projects since last year citing the global downturn and difficulty in acquiring land.
Until now, Maharashtra had been leading the country in SEZ investments, with 131 SEZ proposals, though of them, only 24 are functional.
"We have seen that investors who have applied for setting up SEZs in the state are facing issues related to finances
and land acquisition. We want to have a dialogue with them and sort out their problems, for which we have proposed to conduct a meeting with them before the winter [assembly] session," said industries minister Narayan Rane.
The Hindustan Times had reported in its November 18 issue that the state is planning to doing a rethink on SEZs.
According to the SEZ policy, such zones are meant to be set up for 'public purpose', and are specially delineated duty-free enclaves for the purpose of trade, operations, duty and tariffs, with developers getting fiscal and regulatory incentives.
"Till now, our state has seen a foreign direct investment (FDI) to the tune of Rs1.36 lakh crore in SEZs, which can increase if we have a conducive policy," Rane added.
Interestingly, the state government had tabled the SEZ Act in the assembly, but it had met with stiff resistance from the opposition over issues like lack of labour laws, and being too developer oriented.
Since then, the government has held interactions with legislators across party lines to discuss the proposed bill. An amended form of this bill is likely to be tabled in the coming winter session if all parties arrive at some consensus.
Officials say that the downturn in the overseas markets is one of the main reasons for SEZ developers to shy away. The Centre's direct tax code will also impact SEZs, which has been compounded by the difficulty in acquiring land in an atmosphere of local protests.