'Abolition of toll tax will destroy Kashmir industry'

Association of Kashmir-based industrialists on Saturday threatened to lock their units incase the government decides to abolish toll tax at Lakhanpur and other state entry points.

Addressing a press conference at Kashmir Press Club here, industrial associations under the banner of Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) said any move to abolish existing toll tax will “destroy” local industry by making it uncompetitive.

“At the time of GST implementation, the then PDP-BJP dispensation promised us that toll won’t be touched. Even the industrial policy of the state puts us at par with rest of the country. By abolishing toll government is opening floodgates for outside industry and putting us at a disadvantage,” said Javed Bhat, president, Industrial Estate, Sopore.

Highlighting that if toll tax at Lakhanpur is done away with, 500 units across the Valley will be directly hit, Bhat said this was an attempt to “crush economy” of the Valley and the state, adding that atleast 200 units will have to wind-up production here if toll tax is done away with.

“Educated youth opened industry here because we were promised to be given incentives. We are a landlocked state and industry runs on incentives, moreover toll tax has a significance as it provide Rs 1000 crore annual revenue to the kitty of the state,” said Bhat.

He said levy of toll benefits local industry such as sectors related to cotton production, cement, steel fabrication, poultry adding that abolishing toll will hit competitiveness of local products.

Qaisar Shahid, senior vice-president, Khunmoh Industrial Estate association said abolishing toll will pave way for “both regulated and unregulated” goods from outside and even encourage black-marketing.

“We urge the committee set up by Governor SP Malik that our plea be addressed and toll should not be abolished. 22 units of cotton at Zainakote will have to shut shop if toll tax is abolished,” Shahid said. He said J&K holds a special status and removal of toll tax will be yet another step towards erosion of special economic status to the state.”