June 2017 News

New Tax Regime Row Widens Jammu-Kashmir Rift

28 June 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Srinagar: The issue of extending the GST to J&K has widened the already existing divide between the Jammu region and the Kashmir valley because the political leadership as well as the trade communities of both the regions have taken diametrically opposite stands. As the Kashmir-centric socio-political groups are opposing the GST, the demand of statehood for Jammu has gained further momentum with the propagators of the Jammu state having intensified their campaign. 'There is no logic to stay with Kashmir because the people of the Jammu region want political and economic integration with India, but the Valley-based groups are opposing all efforts of integration,' argued Balwant Singh Mankotia, a two-time lawmaker from Udhampur. Trade bodies in both the regions are on opposite turf over the issue with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), Jammu, vouching for its implementation while the business community in Kashmir opposing the new tax regime, citing the special status of J&K under Article 370. 'We will not look towards Kashmir. We will watch the national interest which is supreme for us. The uncertainty on the part of the state government to implement it from the scheduled date has put the business community in utter confusion. The government does not have a valid explanation for dragging its feet over the GST rollout in J&K,' said Neeraj Anand, president, Chamber of Traders Federation - the frontline organisation of traders in Jammu region. President of CCI-Jammu Rakesh Gupta had already set a deadline for the state government-announced implementation of the GST in J&K. On the other hand, Mushtaq Ahmed Wani, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), had already cautioned that the GST would erode the fiscal autonomy of the state, so they would oppose it.