Mamata Banerjee govt offers IT park status to Infosys

In its bid to woo Infosys Technologies to the state, the Mamata Banerjee government has offered the IT bellwether the status of a software technology park (STP) instead of the SEZ status demanded by it.

State IT minister Partha Chatterjee met Infosys’ Odisha unit head Niladri Misra on Wednesday and put forward a number of alternative proposals, including taking the STP route. He also offered the company the option of becoming a co-developer in any of the existing SEZs or alternative space in any of these. “We had a fruitful discussion today. I have given him (Misra) a few proposals to start their unit in the state,” the minister told TOI after the meeting.

The Software Technology Park of India (STPI) scheme, launched in the early Nineties, played a significant role in establishing India as an IT superpower but was withdrawn by the government on March 31, 2011. Chatterjee said he had shown the Infosys official a copy of the letter the state government has sent to the Centre seeking extension of the STPI scheme.

Partha Chatterjee said, “Around a month ago, our chief minister had a word with Anand Sharma (Union commerce minister). After that we sent a letter to the Centre seeking extension of the STPI scheme. We are waiting for a response. If we get it, we will route Infosys into our state through STPI.” The STPI scheme provides IT companies with a host of tax benefits, the industries minister added.

“We are trying hard to retain their investment in the state. Their official listened to us thoroughly. He said they would get back to us after a detailed discussion at the highest level,” he said.

Officials said it wasn’t the STPI scheme but sections 10 (a) and (b) – which pertain to income-tax benefits under STPI – that were withdrawn, and the state government wants those benefits to help it woo Infosys. The officials indicated that the state government had no problem with the STPI scheme as, unlike in an SEZ, it follows the state’s labour laws and comes under the government of India’s information technology department. Under the STPI, employees also have the right to form trade unions, which is not so in case of special economic zones (SEZs).

Binod Hampapur, senior vice-president and global head, commercial and corporate relations of Infosys had told TOI in an e-mail response in April that the company had “put the Kolkata project on hold for the time being” and would “review (it) and proceed at an appropriate time”. Earlier, Hampapur had clearly said after a meeting with Chatterjee on February 29 that the project would not be possible without the SEZ status.

Infosys, which has taken 50 acres in Rajarhat for Rs 1.5 crore per acre for the project, made full payment last October. However, its project hit a stumbling bloc when the Mamata government refused it SEZ status saying it is ‘in-principle’ against the policy on special economic zones.(curtsey: economic times)

Rupesh Yatesh Dalal
Head Research Department

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