Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Registration and Approval Services

SEZ Registration & Approval Services
U/s Special Economic Zones Act
The Government of India had announced a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) scheme in April, 2000 with a view to provide an internationally competitive environment for exports. The objectives of SEZs include making available goods and services free of taxes and duties supported by integrated infrastructure for export production, expeditious and single window approval mechanism and a package of incentives to attract foreign and domestic investments for promoting export led growth.
In order to give a long term and stable policy framework with minimum regulatory regime and to provide expeditious and single window clearance mechanism, the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 has been brought into effect along with the Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006 from 10 February 2006.
The Act and the Rules together aim to provide a single self contained legislation governing the operations of SEZs and replaces the hitherto applicable legislations and rules governing the operations of SEZ in India.
Under the Act, SEZ could be set up either jointly or severally by the Central Government, State Government, or any person (including a private or public limited company, partnership or proprietorship) for the following purposes:
1. manufacture of goods; or
2. rendering services; or
3. both manufacturing of goods and for rendering services; or
4. As a Free Trade and Warehousing Zone.
The SEZ Act 2005 envisages key role for the State Governments in Export Promotion and creation of related infrastructure. A Single Window SEZ approval mechanism has been provided through a 19 member inter-ministerial SEZ Board of Approval (BoA). The applications duly recommended by the respective State Governments/UT Administration are considered by this BoA periodically. All decisions of the Board of approvals are with consensus.
The SEZ Rules provide for different minimum land requirement for different class of SEZs. Every SEZ is divided into a processing area where alone the SEZ units would come up and the non-processing area where the supporting infrastructure is to be created.

The SEZ Rules provide for:
1. => Simplified procedures for development, operation, and maintenance of the Special Economic Zones and for setting up units and conducting business in SEZs;
2. => Single window clearance for setting up of an SEZ;
3. => Single window clearance for setting up a unit in a Special Economic Zone;
4. => Single Window clearance on matters relating to Central as well as State Governments;
5. => Simplified compliance procedures and documentation with an emphasis on self certification
Approval Stages
The developer submits the proposal for establishment of SEZ to the concerned State Government. The State Government has to forward the proposal with its recommendation within 45 days from the date of receipt of such proposal to the Board of Approval. The applicant also has the option to submit the proposal directly to the Board of Approval.
The Board of Approval has been constituted by the Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred under the SEZ Act. All the decisions are taken in the Board of Approval by consensus. The Board of Approval has 19 Members.
Administrative set up
The functioning of the SEZs is governed by a three tier administrative set up. The Board of Approval is the apex body and is headed by the Secretary, Department of Commerce. The Approval Committee at the Zone level deals with approval of units in the SEZs and other related issues. Each Zone is headed by a Development Commissioner, who is ex-officio chairperson of the Approval Committee.
Once a SEZ has been approved by the Board of Approval and Central Government has notified the area of the SEZ, units are allowed to be set up in the SEZ. All the proposals for setting up of units in the SEZ are approved at the Zone level by the Approval Committee consisting of Development Commissioner, Customs Authorities and representatives of State Government. All post approval clearances including grant of importer-exporter code (IEC) number, change in the name of the company or implementing agency and broad banding diversification, etc. are given at the Zone level by the Development Commissioner. The performances of the SEZ units are periodically monitored by the Approval Committee and units are liable for penal action under the provision of Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, in case of violation of the conditions of the approval.
Incentives and facilities offered to the SEZs
The incentives and facilities offered to the units in SEZs for attracting investments into the SEZs, including foreign investment include:-
1. => Duty free import/domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units
2. => 100% Income Tax exemption on export income for SEZ units under Section 10AA of the Income Tax Act for first 5 years, 50% for next 5 years thereafter and 50% of the ploughed back export profit for next 5 years.
3. => Exemption from minimum alternate tax under section 115JB of the Income Tax Act.
4. => External commercial borrowing (ECB) by SEZ units up to US $ 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through recognized banking channels.
5. => Exemption from Central Sales Tax.
6. => Exemption from Service Tax.
7. => Single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.
8. => Exemption from State sales tax and other levies as extended by the respective State Governments.
9. => The major incentives and facilities available to SEZ developers include:-
10. => Exemption from customs/excise duties for development of SEZs for authorized operations approved by the BOA.
11. => Income Tax exemption on income derived from the business of development of the SEZ in a block of 10 years in 15 years under Section 80-IAB of the Income Tax Act.
12. => Exemption from minimum alternate tax under Section 115 JB of the Income Tax Act.
13. => Exemption from dividend distribution tax under Section 115O of the Income Tax Act.
14. => Exemption from Central Sales Tax (CST).
15. => Exemption from Service Tax (Section 7, 26 and Second Schedule of the SEZ Act).
16. => Exemption from Capital Gains - Capital gains arising on transfer of assets (machinery, plant, building, land or any rights in buildings or land) on shifting of the industrial undertaking from an urban area to any SEZ would be exempt from capital gains tax.
Other incentives:
Environment Protection Act
Information Technology SEZ does not require environment clearance for development of SEZ. Public hearing is not exempted process of Environment impact assessment (EIA) as laid in the notification of the ministry of Environment would have to be adhered to.
Companies Act
Enhanced limit of Rs. 2.4 Crores per annum allowed for managerial remuneration. Exemption from requirement of domicile in India for 12 months prior to appointment as Director.
Employees Provident Fund
As per the Ministry of Labour, the state government may apply for exemption to the Central Government under section 16(2) of the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provision Act 1952 from the applicability of the provision of the said Act for 5 years.
Drugs & Cosmetics Act
Exemption from Port Restriction under Drug & Cosmetics Rules.
Ozg Regulatory Support
1. => Approval of SEZ (Settling application before BOA, preparation of project report, facts sheet in case of conversion etc.)
2. => Approval of letter of permission (LOP) / renewal of letter of permission
3. => Approval of Import Export Code Number
4. => Permission for inter-unit transfer of capital goods
5. => Permission for disposal of waste and scrap
6. => Approval for enhancement of production capacity
7. => Permission for additional location / change of location
8. => Permission for sale of rejects
9. => Permission for sale of DTA sale
10. => Assisting in claiming Duty Drawback
11. => Assisting in claiming DEPB
12. => NOC (No-Objection-Certificate) for de bonding of materials
13. => NOC for de bonding of premises
Ozg Litigation Support & Representations
1. => Drafting appeals & submissions
2. => Appearances & arguments before adjudication & appellate authorities
3. => Briefing Senior Counsel on need basis
4. => Representation before relevant Government authorities on tax & trade policy issues
5. => Developing economic justification for tariff/non-tariff concessions