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CII suggests concept of virtual SEZs

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Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister for Commerce and Industry, along with Mr Y.C. Deveshwar, Chairman of ITC, and Mr D.S. Brar, CEO and Managing Director, Ranbaxy, at a meeting on export-import policy with CII members in the Capital on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI, March 11

THE Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested that the policy benefits of special economic zones (SEZ) need to be spread across the country by introducing the concept of virtual SEZs.

This was one of the suggestions put forward by the CII at a meeting ahead of the Exim Policy with the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Arun Jaitley.

Addressing the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer, Ranbaxy, Mr D.S. Brar, said that the domain knowledge developed in the existing manufacturing units cannot be transferred to a new location in SEZ.

Pointing to the potential of the Indian entertainment and media industry, Mr Shekhar Kapur, noted film director, said that the export of Indian films would help promote Indian culture and tourism. Fresh infusion of funds needs to be encouraged by giving tax breaks to corporations and high networth individuals who want to invest in the media.

India should also sign treaties with countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK, to enable non-resident Indians who are willing to fund films to get tax breaks in their countries of residence.

In the healthcare sector, the Executive Director, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Dr Naresh Trehan, highlighted India's success in stopping the outflow of patients and even in attracting patients from neighbouring countries. In addition to the steps taken in this year's Budget, one of the demands of the industry is to be granted infrastructure status.

The IT services industry, represented by Chief Financial Officer, Infosys Technologies, Mr Mohan Das Pal, made two sets of demands — giving some suggestions on India's economic diplomacy and others relating to specific benefits given to the sector. India should constantly lobby to lift visa restrictions and try to enter totalisation agreements with developed countries which would enable IT workers to save on tax payments. The industry would also like to see the customs bonding scheme being abolished, export obligation imposed on companies rather than on units and the ability to transfer tax exemptions to sub-contractors.

The Director (Commercial), Engineers India Ltd, Mr Kaul, highlighted the problems faced in project exports in sectors such as telecom and engineering. He added that clearance process when bidding for large projects should be quicker. Currently, commercial banks can clear projects only up to Rs 5 crore, whereas project size for exports are normally to the tune of Rs 100 crore.

The Chairman, ITC, Mr Y.C. Deveshwar, emphasised on the need to promote the competitiveness of the Indian farmer.

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