154 SEZs operational: Anand Sharma

New Delhi: Only one-fourth of 587 special economic zones (SEZs) approved by the government to boost exports have become operational, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told the Rajya Sabha today. He said during Question Hour that the government had approved 587 SEZs, of which 380 have been notified. The number of operational SEZs is 154 or 25.43 per cent of the approved special zones.

"If there are delays beyond permission, actions are taken," he said adding several requests have been received for denotification of SEZs in view of taxation issues and slowdown in target market. As on December 31, 2011, an investment of Rs 249,631 crore has been made in SEZs, generating direct employment for over 8 lakh persons.

Exports from SEZ increased 43.11 per cent to Rs 315,868 crore in 2010-11. "The total physical exports from SEZs as on December 31, 2011, that is, in the first three quarters of the current financial year, has been to the tune of Rs 260,973 crore, registering a growth of 14.50 per cent over the exports of the corresponding period of the previous year," he said.
"SEZs account for 25 per cent of India`s export earnings," Sharma said, adding SEZs were set up to encourage investment and exports.

The total value of concessions available in SEZs was Rs 8,614 crore while those in non-SEZ areas was about Rs 50,000 crore, he said. India`s exports are likely to touch USD 300 billion this year as against USD 252 billion last year, he said.

"The fiscal concessions and duty benefits allowed to SEZs are inbuilt into the SEZ Act, 2005. These exemptions are in the nature of incentives for export and investment and are consistent with the principles that guide export/investment promotion initiatives of the Government in general, and cannot be termed as a revenue loss," he added.