'Virtual SEZ' status sought for Goa pharma, IT units

Panaji, Dec 28 : The Goa industry is lobbying with the union finance ministry for a "virtual Special Economic Zone (SEZ)" status to new eco-friendly industries.

A petition to Finance Secretary Sumit Bose from the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) also demands duty-free import facilities for Information Technology, Electronics and Pharmaceutical industries in Goa, where the SEZ policy had been scrapped because of popular opposition.

"Units set up in SEZs enjoy benefits like duty-free import or domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of the SEZ units," a petition signed by GCCI chairman Narayan Bandekar reads, while making a case for "virtual SEZ" status for the new industries.

"Since there is opposition for setting up SEZs in Goa, we recommend that new units in Goa, especially in the IT, electronics and pharma sectors, be granted virtual SEZ status and given exemptions from Income Tax, similar to export-oriented units," the petition further says.

The Goa government had scrapped the SEZ in the state in 2008, after a string of protests by civil society groups. The ostensible reason given by then chief minister Digambar Kamat for the scapping of the SEZ was the "public outcry".

SEZ promoters, namely Meditab Specialities Pvt Ltd, Cipla, Peninsular Pharma Research Ltd, Paradigm Logistic and Distributors, Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Inox Mercentile Pvt Ltd and M/s Maxgrow, who had been allotted 32 lakh sq mt of land, were asked to halt all work in their allotted areas within a year.

The companies have now approached the courts in appeal against the Goa government's scrapping of the SEZ policy.

--IANS (Posted on 28-12-2013)

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