Thursday, July 16, 2009

Punjab SEZ Bill Exposes Anti-people character of Akali-BJP combine and the Congress

Lok Morcha Punjab has strongly opposed the Punjab Special Economic Zones Bill -2009 passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha, in its last session, which allows a developer to set up & operate 100 percent export oriented units without paying any tax. It will open the flood gates for the exploitation of the natural resources, manpower & state exchequer of Punjab by imperialist foreign companies and their Indian partners. Being anti-people and anti-national, this enactment should not be brought on the statute book. Passing of the Punjab Special Economic Zones Bill -2009 by the state legislature, without thoroughly discussing its provisions proves that the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) as well as the Congress, are equally zealous in serving foreign and Indian big capitalists (Malik Bhagoes), and care the least for the poor farmers, agricultural laborers and industrial workers (Bhai Laloes) of Punjab.
While on one hand Punjab Govt pleads to have no money to spend on education, health services, water supply, power and infrastructure etc., it is bestowing huge benefits on the imperialist and big capitalists. It exposes the anti-people & pro-imperialist character of Akali-BJP combine. The Act provides for total exemption from payment of any tax, duty, fees, cess or any other levy. Diesel and Petrol would be available to the units in SEZs at about half the market price due to various tax exemptions. Similarly cement, bricks, iron & steel shall also be made available to them at about 30 to 40 percent cheaper rates. Presently, registration fee on agricultural & urban land is levied at the rate of 10 & 14 percent respectively of its value, whereas the SEZ developer will not pay even a single Paisa, as all the units in SEZ shall be exempted from stamp duty, registration fee and social security Cess on the purchase of land.
This Act also provides for giving public utility status to industrial units located in SEZs. It means, these units shall be exempted from the operation of various labour laws relating to working hours, minimum wages, retrenchments, lock-outs, gratuity, accident compensation, maternity & other social security benefits, right to form trade unions etc. It will result in extreme exploitation of laborers employed there. In effect, the SEZs established under the Act shall supply subsidized goods to foreign markets at the cost of the people of Punjab. If similar tax benefits are extended to the industrialists, transporters and farmers of Punjab, to cater to the local market, the prices of most goods & services will become 50 percent cheaper.
The benefits being showered upon the foreign and big Indian capitalists by Punjab Govt, through this Act, are in addition to nearly Rs.7,03,147 Crore tax benefits already given to them by the Central Govt in the last two financial years.

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