The state government is set to scrap the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) Act,2003 that it formulated to facilitate the development,operation,maintenance,management,administration and the regulation of SEZs in West Bengal.
The Act stipulates the waiver of electricity tariff in full,without any restriction of period,stamp duty,registration fees,import and export duties under state law, among other issues.The proposal is likely to come in the Cabinet meeting this month-end.
Meanwhile,the state government,alarmed that Infosys may withdraw its project from the state,will seek SEZ-loke benefits for the IT bellwether from the Centre. But since the Trinamool Congress,in its election manifesto,has declared that it was against setting up of SEZs,the state government will request a different tag other than SEZ for the facilities provided under the SEZ Act 2005 of the Centre.
Meanwhile,Basudev Banerjee,Principal Secretary,Department of Commerce and Industries and Information Technology,who is expected to leave for New Delhi on February 23 with the Infosys letter,will discuss with officials of the Union ministry of commerce and industries as to how Infosys could be given SEZ-like facilities.
Infosys had recently written to the state government saying it is surrendering the 50 acres that it had got from Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO),a government agency,and requesting for refund of the Rs 18.90 crore it paid as first tranche of the total amount of money for the land. It fixed February 15 as the deadline for the governments response.
N R Narayanmurthy,the chief mentor of Infosys had a week ago said that his company wanted the facilities that they are enjoying in other states.
We cannot afford to lose a project like Infosys because it will send out a wrong message to potential investors. At the same time there are political compulsions. We are looking for a face-saving formula in which the project can be retained in West Bengal. It can be a change of name, sources told The Indian Express.
Under the Centres SEZ Act of 2005,facilities available to SEZs include exemption of 100 per cent income tax for the first five years,50 per cent for the next five years,exemption from customs duty,excise duty,service tax,central sales tax,allotment of grant and loans.