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SEZ developers can take disputes to customs dept
November, 03rd 2008

Special economic zone (SEZ) developers and unit owners, who were clueless on the forum for appeal against imposition of duties, can relax. The government has decided to allow them to address such complaints to the customs commissioner in charge of appeals.

Since the SEZ Act does not provide for any appeal against imposition of high duties, there was confusion about addressing such grievances.

Speaking to ET, government sources pointed out that the absence of a specific provision in the SEZ Act for appeal in case a unit owner or developer is wrongfully charged higher duties led to a situation where they had no option other than going to the courts.

Although the Customs Act provides for appeal against wrong duties, the act does not apply in the zones as they are considered to be outside the customs territory.

Going to court to sort out minor issues like application of higher taxes does not make much sense as it is a time-consuming exercise, the source said.

The revenue and commerce departments, therefore, got together to resolve the issue. It was decided that since there are already custom commissioners handling appeals, SEZ cases should also be handled by them, the official said.

A decision on the issue was taken fast as a number of SEZ units and developers, especially in Surat, were facing problems related to alleged over-imposition of duties.

Sources said that the implementation of the decision to forward such duty disputes to the custom commissioners handling appeals would be done immediately. It would be subsequently backed by modification in the SEZ rules through a notification.

We don't want a delay in the implementation of the decision. The changes in the SEZ rules will be notified subsequently, the official said.

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