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Bill to amend SEZ law passed by Parliament

By PTI Updated: Jun 28, 2019 12:03 am
Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi, June 27 (PTI): A bill that seeks to allow trusts to set up units in special economic zones (SEZs) by amending the SEZ law was approved by Parliament on Thursday, with the government asserting these zones were an engine of growth and employment

The Rajya Sabha gave its nod by a voice vote, a day after the Lok Sabha passed the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Bill will replace the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which was promulgated in March.

The ordinance had paved the way for trusts to set up units in these zones.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said: “This is a small amendment that has large impact on investment, job and growth”.

“Until now, we have eight proposals from such trusts.

Total investment proposed by these trusts comes out to be INR 8,000 crore,” Goyal said, adding that the government expects about USD 3 billion, which is around INR 20,000 crore investments annually.

The minister justified issuance of ordinance saying that economic development cannot stop if some members or party in Parliament create hurdles in passage of legislations.

The previous government had withdrawn exemptions in income tax, dividend distribution tax and MAT and because of it the SEZ framework faced some stress, he said, adding that it left several investors in lurch.

“At the end of March 2019, the investment in SEZs was a whopping INR 5 lakh crore plus and the employment was over 20 lakh in SEZs and export from SEZs was over INR 7 lakh crore,” he said.

Meanwhile, an amendment moved by E Karim of CPI M was negated.

Participating in the debate, D Raja of CPI, sought to corner the government about the tearing hurry to bring the ordinance on SEZs.

Opposing the bill, T K S Elangovan of DMK also questioned the urgency to pass the ordinance, saying it’s an “insult” to Parliament.

AAP member Sanjay Singh wanted to know whether the government has any policies to return unutilised land to farmers and to provide employment to local people in SEZs.

P Bhattacharya (Cong) said barren land should be used for SEZs and not agricultural land.

Swait Malik of BJP supported the bill, saying it would boost economic growth and foreign investments.

Naresh Gujral of Akali Dal supported the bill, saying the country needs FDI. But he asked the government to have consistent policies to give confidence to investors.

Earlier, moving the Bill, Goyal said there is a need to introduce the legislation to assure international markets that investments can be made through Trust mechanism into special economic zones in India.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh asked what the hurry was to bring an ordinance on the bill just a week before general elections were announced on March 2, 2019.

TMC leader Derek O’Brien said his party grossly opposed SEZs as this business model has not worked in India.

Supporting the bill, Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) asked about government scrutiny of the trust which invest in SEZs.

EC has said no manufacturing defect in EVM — Minister

There is no discrepancies regarding the voter turnout/and votes counted on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Lok Sabha polls, the Rajya Sabha was informed Thursday.

Replying to supplementaries during Question hour, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Election Commission has not received any complaint regarding defects in EVM manufacture and the issue does not concern its operations.

The Law Minister was replying to a specific question from Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut who said there have been complaints about operations of EVMs and differences in counting between EVMs and VVPATs in the just-concluded elections.

“This is a question about manufacturing of EVMs and not its operations. The EC has said there is no manufacturing defect in EVMs. If there is any specific complaint, I will get the information from the EC,” he told the member.

Specifically asked about problems in EVM functioning during polling, the minister said, “speaking on behalf of the EC, there is no complaint as far as counting of VVPATs is concerned. If there were any complaints, the same have been monitored and redressed by the Returning Officers at the spot where the candidates are also present.”

Centre extends deadline for suggestions on draft education policy till July 31

The Union government has extended the deadline to submit suggestions on the draft National Education Policy (NEP) from June 30 to July 31.

The information was given by Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, while in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The draft NEP has been put in the public domain from May 31.

“The minister informed that till date around 50,000 suggestions/comments have been received. He added that the deadline has been extended to invite more suggestions from public and all stakeholders and to increase participation in framing the policy,” the HRD ministry said.

The committee led by eminent space scientist K. Kasturirangan had submitted a draft of the policy on May 31, which talks about the reforms in the education system of the country.

By PTI Updated: Jun 28, 2019 12:03:40 am