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Modi, Chavan fence on stage

Mumbai, Aug. 16: Narendra Modi and Maharashtra’s Congress chief minister today sparred on stage as the Prime Minister laid the foundation for a special economic zone in Nhava Sheva, about 100km from Mumbai.

Prithviraj Chavan cited two taxes that industry lobbies see as the biggest hurdle to SEZs’ economic viability: the 18.5 per cent minimum alternate tax and the dividend distribution tax, imposed by the UPA government in 2011.

“Nearly 118 SEZs in Maharashtra are going to pieces because of a tough central tax regime,” Chavan said, requesting Modi “to look into the matter”.

Modi replied: “I want to tell CM sahab that I understand his concern about languishing SEZs across Maharashtra.”

He added after a dramatic pause: “I am sure it is a burden he has carried for a long time and his requests about the tough central tax regime that governs SEZs must have fallen on deaf ears in the past.”

The allusion to the policy paralysis under the UPA government drew laughter from the audience of nearly 1,000.