February 2018 News

Trouble-torn State Neglected In Union Budget: Kashmir Inc

1 February 2018
Greater Kashmir
Saqib Malik

Srinagar: The Union Budget for 2018-19 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday has mostly disappointed the business community of Jammu Kashmir, as they say 'the trouble-torn state' is being neglected by the BJP-led central government. President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Javid Ahmad Tenga said the expectation that the Union Finance Minister will make necessary provisions in the Budget to bear the cost of return of J&K based Power projects by NHPC to the state and as a part of compensation for Indus water usage has not been fulfilled. 'KCCI has been demanding that provision to be made in the Union Budget for investment insurance to provide security for the investment made by the outsider investors in Kashmir, as it being a conflict zone, the investors are not otherwise willing to invest in Kashmir,' Tenga said. Tenga said no concrete measures have been taken despite state government providing Rs 44,000 crore loss estimate of 2014 floods to the central government. 'The estimate was made to ensure rehabilitation of business and other activities but to our dismay nothing towards that has been provided in the Budget. We however appreciate the broad-based provisions made for the overall health and education sectors,' Tenga said. President, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rakesh Gupta said while 'overall development and GDP growth of the country' has been addressed in the Budget but interests of 'local industry and social security of tax-payers being neglected' has dejected us, he said. 'A special package for industries in J&K on the pattern of North-Eastern States was much expected in the Union budget 2018. Investments are possible only if special packages and incentives are announced which would lead to job creation and economy growth,' Gupta said, adding, KCCI and JCCI will soon jointly 'call upon the concerned people in the New Delhi regarding tax payers and local industry concerns'. Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan said the Budget has failed to provide any relief for the local trade community and called it ' a disappointing Budget'. 'Frankly speaking there are no expectations from us anymore. Local businesses in Kashmir have been crushed as Government of India has snatched our fiscal autonomy. There is nothing in their (centre's) kitty due to demonetisation and GST so they have nothing to offer,' Khan said. Khan said state is going through electricity crisis and has been expecting return of power projects to the state but to no avail. 'There could have at least been a mention of this in the Budget,' Khan said. Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir has termed the union budget as 'balanced and encouraging' for India Inc but said lack of specific announcements for the state is discouraging. FCIK President, Mukhtar Yousuf said the budget lacked initiatives and proposals that were required by the economic sectors of the state for their turnaround and growth. 'A long pending demand of extending tax holiday to the state and declaring it as free economic zone has yet again been ignored and denied. We welcome initiatives taken for intended revival of overall MSME sector but these are insufficient for Kashmir industry which has been going through a lot of distress,' Yousuf said. Chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kashmir Chapter) Mushtaq Chaya said while the Budget has positively focused on overall rural development and upliftment of the poor but offers 'nothing for Kashmir' especially the tourism sector. 'We were expecting a tax holiday for tourism sector after it received the industrial status but lack of any mention has disappointed us,' Chaya said. With no changes to the personal income tax slabs, the salaried class are also vastly disappointed. The expectation from the common people that the slab of income tax should be increased and a special package for raising state's infrastructure be announced has also not been fulfilled in the Budget. However, some relief provided by reintroduction of standard deduction of Rs 40,000 has been welcomed though. 'The contribution of the employee towards provident fund to be borne by the central government is a welcome step. This will relieve the employee from a great burden as government has set-aside a sizeable corpus towards this,' said Farooq Ahmad, who runs a small scale unit in city outskirts.