More such SEZs including multi-product ones were being planned in Bengal.

Our Bureau

Kolkata, Dec. 18

In a bid to provide a major stimulus to manufacturing sector growth, the West Bengal Government has decided to set up an exclusive auto components SEZ, the land for which was now being identified.

Speaking at the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) awards presentation ceremony here on Monday, the State Industry Minister, Mr Nirupam Sen, said the Centre has given an in-principle clearance for the proposed single-product SEZ project (which required small size land), which was expected to rev up Bengal's engineering exports sector. He said more such SEZs including multi-product ones were being planned in Bengal.

Later, responding to queries from presspersons, Mr Sen said it would complement the Tata Motors' small car project coming up at Singur. He said pre-construction work on the Tata Motors project has already begun.

The initiatives

Commenting on the initiatives taken to push exports per se from Bengal, including engineering exports, the Minister assured the exporting community that efforts would be mounted soon to revive the Board of Trade set up by the Government, which had remained non-functional for some years now.

The board acted as a platform for the exporting community to air its suggestions for the benefit of the State Government. EEPC has offered to act as the revised Board's secretariat.

Mr Sen conceded that export of engineering goods from the State would depend on the quality of infrastructure provided, especially ports, roads, power etc.

infrastructure

Outlining the steps to beef up infrastructure, he said there was a plan to directly link Haldia, the fast developing port town in Midnapore district, through another expressway with the North-North-east region. He said the Centre's proposal to examine setting up of a deep-sea port in the Bay of Bengal would give a tremendous boost to exports from eastern India.

The Minister also assured engineering exporters that he would take up the vexed issue of delayed VAT refunds to exporters with the State Commercial Taxes Department.

Exports

Earlier, in his welcome address, Mr Rakesh Shah, Chairman of EEPC, said engineering exports have already touched $13 billion till October this year, and that the council was confident of achieving the revised target (for 2006-07) of $24 billion.

Pointing out that Indian engineering goods exports was now led by value-added exports, he said during 2005-06, export of capital goods and transport item constituted 52 per cent of the total exports of engineering goods. He also sought public utility status for exports, so that the sector could be effectively protected against frequent bandhs and strikes.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 19, 2006)
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