‘SEZs driving forces of economic growth’

July 13th, 2008 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) India’s booming economy will scale further heights if steps like special economic zones (SEZs) are executed effectively, says Rashid Alleem of Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), Sharjah. The energetic director general of HFZA, a free economic zone spread in an area of 25 million sq metres, does not believe that inflation and sluggish world economy could hamper India’s medium and long-term growth process.

“Inflation is a global phenomenon. There is sluggishness in the world economy. Your economy is on the right track. Pace of economic process is quite satisfying,” Alleem told IANS in an interview.

Quite impressed by India’s SEZ policy, Alleem said there was no scope for either complacency or short-sightedness to maintain a competitive edge in today’s world economy.

“Economy is moving so fast. It is an era of free zones. If you sit with clarity and a focussed vision, there is no problem. India has to set business examples for others,” he said.

Alleem, along with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was in the city to attend a global conclave on “Special Economic Zones: What Will Drive Them”, organised by India’s leading industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) July 9.

Referring to HFZA, Rashid said: “Around 3,000 companies have their set-ups in our free economic zone. Around 300 of them are Indian companies like Essar and Larsen & Toubro.”

HFZA, which started operations in late 1995, has seven zones, namely, construction world, maritime city, steel city, timber land, oil and gas zone, perfume world, and petrochemical zone.

“There are 400,000 people employed in HFZA. One can just imagine the kind of job potential an SEZ possesses ,” he said.

Assocham also conferred the best performing SEZ award on HFZA. Planning Commission member Anwarul Hoda gave the award to Rashid.

Asked if he had plans for collaboration with Indian firms for developing more free economic zones in his country or in India, Rashid said discussions were going on, but nothing tangible had yet come out.

“We are, of course, in touch with some Indian players, but I do not have anything tangible to share with you. It is perhaps too early to think of results,” Rashid said.

In India, there are 462 formally approved SEZs at present, of which 222 have already been notified, and over 40 of them are fully operational.

An official estimate says that 336,235 people were employed - directly and indirectly - in SEZs as on March 2008, while direct employment created in notified SEZs stood at 97,993 as on March 31, 2008.

“It is heartening to learn that India has put in place dedicated mechanism to look into every proposal for SEZ, and for the subsequent clearance to be given,” he said.

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