Centre to form panel for changes in Special Economic Zones policy

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New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) The Centre will constitute a group to suggest necessary changes in the policy for special economic zones (SEZs), Parliament was informed on Monday.

Designed to facilitate exports, units in SEZs get certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as no licencing required for imports and full freedom of sub-contracting, as well as direct and indirect tax benefits.

“The government is in the process of constituting a group to study necessary changes in the SEZ policy,” Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

In a separate reply, Prabhu said the government has decided to constitute a task force on rubber to look at formulating short-term solutions and long-term strategies to address the concerns of the sector.

Noting that members of the task force would include representatives of both state and central government, he said the effort will be to work towards a rubber policy in consultation with state governments.

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Also on Monday, Minister of State for Commerce C.R. Chaudhary told the Lok Sabha that the Coffee Board has applied for registration of Araku coffee under Geographical Indications to protect the unique identity of the coffee grown by the tribal communities of Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.

Under the Centre’s Integrated Coffee Development Project being implemented in the area, the government extends financial support for replanting and expansion, creation of water harvesting and irrigation infrastructures, and mechanisation of coffee estate operations, Chaudhary said in a written reply.

“The Coffee Board is facilitating collective marketing of Araku Coffee by providing incentives at Rs 10 per kg for SHGs (self help groups) and grower collectives,” he added.

Arabica coffee from the Araku Valley area has gained popularity internationally as a high quality speciality coffee, the Ministry said.

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–IANS

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