The state budget for year 2017-18 announced by Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu received mixed response from industry and business leaders. While industry captains welcomed interest subvention and passenger tax waiver for badly hit transport sector due to the unrest but said similar announcement could have been made for rest of the trade and business community as well.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani said the amnesty scheme announced by FM for tax payers who are registered under VAT Act 2005 is a welcome step but expressed concern on lack of announcements for tourism and related sectors.
"Traders who have been levied interest and penalties under VAT will now only have to pay the principal dues which will reduce the burden on these tax payers,” Wani said. “But tourism which has been given status of industry by the government has been neglected. We appreciate proposal for underground cabling at tourist resorts but had requested for financial support for refurbishment of hotels and lodges which unfortunately has not been announced in this Budget,” Wani said. In order to bail out marginalized artisans, Artisan Credit Card should have been brought at par with Kisan Credit Card which was given waiver of 50 per cent in last state Budget, Wani added.
“We also expected allocation of funds for government arts emporium for purchasing goods from artisans directly. Some special incentives could have provided boost to the handicraft sector which has seen a decline in exports for last two years. The much awaited brand promotion and exhibition fund not being announced is also a dampener.”
President, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), Rakesh Gupta said 24/7 clearance at Lakhanpur toll post announced in the Budget will ensure smooth supply of goods into the state. “Earlier toll clearance used to happen for only 8 hours. Some items dropped from negative list is also a welcome step. Exemption under CST and VAT has been continued which is a breather for industrialists. Setting up of Asset Reconstruction Company will also help revival of sick units,” Gupta said.
However, hitting at the Budget announcements, Chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan said, “It is an attempt to appease a section of people who have recently revolted against PDP-BJP alliance. While there are many employee friendly announcements but there is nothing much for business community and common people apart from the announcements made for transport sector. The much awaited interest waiver to trade community has not taken place. We live in a conflict zone and there are unrests that often take place. Keeping this in mind, during the pre-budget consultations we had proposed a disaster insurance scheme which can cover business losses in times of unrest or natural calamities, but that has not been fulfilled in the Budget,” Khan said.
President, Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Mukhtar Yousuf said negative list being abolished in manufacturing sector has been a long pending demand of FCIK which has been fulfilled in the Budget.
“We had also appealed that demand charges for electricity for the months of unrest for industrial units be waived off but has not been fulfilled in the Budget. We are hopeful that FM will reconsider our demand so that there is no burden on unit holders,” Yousuf said.
Senior Vice-Chairman, Kashmir Economic Forum (KEF), Jan Muhammad Kaul said unrest-hit trade has been neglected in the Budget as no major announcements have been made for bailing out business units who suffered huge losses during recent unrest. “There is nothing to look forward for business community in this Budget. We had expected that FM will abolish multiple toll posts from Lakhanpur to Srinagar but this has not been taken into consideration. We had suggested to notify Lower Munda as the only check post but that has not been considered. This could have brought down the unnecessary harassment faced by Kashmir-bound truckers,” Kaul said.