Won’t allow dilution of special status: Kashmir Inc

J&K is in the process of implementing its GST law after a debate in the State Assembly, finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu has said.

Mukeet Akmali
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 20 2017 12:02AM | Updated Date: May 20 2017 12:02AM
Won’t allow dilution of special status: Kashmir IncPhoto: Aman Farooq/GK

Fearing that implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime would “dilute” J&K’s special status, Kashmir’s business community on Friday cautioned that any attempt to harm Article 370 will have “serious repercussions for both New Delhi and the state government.”

Addressing a presser here, Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), said: “We are not against taxes but warn both the state and central governments that if they try to dilute state’s special status under the garb of implementing the GST regime, we will launch a massive agitation.”

J&K is in the process of implementing its GST law after a debate in the State Assembly, finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu has said.

“Kashmir is a disputed territory and the central government, under the garb of implementing these central laws, must not try to implement its slogan of ‘Ek Pradaan, Ek Vidaan’. That will be completely unacceptable to us,” Khan said.

He said the state government had earlier promised that it won’t implement the GST regime keeping in view the state’s constitutional position, “but we have to come know that it is going to implement this one-tax regime without consulting the business community. This has raised apprehensions.”

Khan said the government should come clean on the issue “because Kashmir is not like any other place and expansion of revenue base by Rs 1,500 crore at the cost of state’s special status won’t be tolerated.”

“Earlier our special position was eroded by various methods and tactics but this time we are ready to go to any extent to safeguard it,” said Khan, who is also chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance.

“The government should first deliberate GST implementation with business community and clarify how it would safeguard Article 370 in the process,” he said.

Khan said he would like to remind the present Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu that when he was in the Opposition, he was apprehensive that GST will erode our fiscal autonomy and wrote articles in newspapers against it. “But in power he is now its votary which is quite contradictory to his earlier stand,” Khan said, warning that implementation of any central Act without taking the stakeholders on board will have serious ramifications.

State’s Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu has stated that the state government would convene a special Assembly Session to discuss implementation of GST.

President of his faction of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Muhammad Ashraf Mir said “our only objective is to safeguard special status.”

“It has not been made clear by the government how the implementation of GST won’t affect our fiscal autonomy to tax services,” he said, adding: “The government has maintained criminal silence and didn’t even bother to discuss the important issue with the stakeholders.”

Mir said the government should also come up with a roadmap on how it would provide remissions to industries in Kashmir which are situated at the dead end after abolition of State taxes.

“Our industry is already suffering due to geographical disadvantages,” he said. “The Government should then open other routes for us to help the local industry.”