The commerce ministry has urged the Maharashtra government to resolve all issues concerning the Navi Mumbai special economic zone (SEZ) by the end of August 2017. The Board of Approval (BoA), chaired by commerce secretary Rita Teaotia, discussed the matter. The inter-ministerial board deals with SEZ-related matters.
The developer, Navi Mumbai SEZ Ltd, had intimated the board that they had not been able to operationalise the SEZs, because the Maharashtra government did not enact the state SEZ Act and in the absence of the legislation, entrepreneurs were not willing to set up units in the zones. As the issue has been pending since 2015, the board, after deliberations, ‘decided to allow the government of Maharashtra up to August 30, 2017, to resolve the operational and regulatory issues with the developer and inform the board of its decision by that date, failing which, the SEZs would automatically stand de-notified’, according to the minutes of the BoA meeting held on July 3.
In all these SEZs, the development commissioner of Navi Mumbai, had not recommended the request for further extension of letter of approvals to these SEZs. The board was also informed about the observations of the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), which held that the Navi Mumbai SEZ in Maharashtra was granted routine extensions, ‘even though the developer had not complied with the conditions attached to the approval’. The board also noted that neither the developer nor the Maharashtra government had come forward with concrete development plans.
There are in all eight proposals, of which six zones got formal approval from the BoA in 2007, while the remaining two were approved in 2009. The eight zones are from IT/ITeS (4), multi-services (2), multi-product (1) and the gems and jewellery (1) sectors. All of them are proposed in Maharashtra.
An SEZ area is considered to be a foreign territory for trade operations and duties are mainly set up for export purposes. They are developed as an export hub. Exports from SEZs grew nearly 12 per cent to Rs 5.24 lakh crores in 2016-17.