Our Bureau

New Delhi, Jan. 13

THE long pending comprehensive legislation on special economic zones (SEZs) has been further delayed with the Union Cabinet on Thursday deciding to refer it to a group of ministers (GoM). "The Bill was discussed and referred to a Group of Ministers," the Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, said here. Mr Nath said he was hopeful that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament in the forthcoming Budget session.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, would constitute the GoM for this purpose. The Union Law and Home ministries have raised certain questions with regard to the proposed SEZs such as whether the Indian Penal Code would be applicable to crimes committed in SEZs, which are proposed to be given a deemed foreign territory status.

The SEZ legislation is aimed at boosting exports and foreign direct investment to pursue export-led growth as in China. The legislation is expected to provide for a fiscal package, including 20-year income tax holiday. It also attempts to further simplify procedures for attracting FDI, which will not require the Foreign Investment Promotion Board's approval.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 14, 2005)
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