PHDCCI Kashmir delegation calls on Lt Governor Manoj Sinha

A delegation of PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Kashmir today called on the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha here at the Raj Bhavan.

The delegation comprised its Chairman, Baldev Singh Raina and Mentor, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya who submitted a 20-point agenda suggesting various measures for relief and meaningful revival and survival of the business sector in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to statement, the members of the delegation lauded the UT Government for promptly addressing the concern of the business community and inviting suggestions and inputs for the revival of the economy of Union Territory of J&K.

They also sought Lt Governor’s intervention for the nomination of PHDCCI, J&K in all Boards, Advisory Committees, Task Forces, Apex Level Consultative Committee (ALCC) and District Level Monitoring Committee (DMC).

The Lt Governor observed that the UT Government is well versed with the issues of the business community and is taking comprehensive measures to bring reforms in all major economic sectors, besides mitigating the economic stress caused due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“The UT Government is implementing all the best practices of people’s centric governance and all the stakeholders will be taken on board while formulating policies and other related issues,” he said.

The Lt Governor said a committee headed by Advisor to the Lt Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma, has already been constituted for Relief and Revival of Business Sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also assured the members of the delegation that the suggestion made by them will be taken up for consideration and the genuine issues projected by them would be looked into meticulously for their early redressal.

According to the agenda statement, the persistent business interruptions from last several years resulted in accumulation of huge business losses; on account of the financial cost of bank borrowings that has significantly impaired our business capacity and the expansion provisions.

“To overcome from the current economic breakdown, we suggest extension of moratorium in EMI for all existing business loans till March-2021 and interest subvention with effect from August 2019 for 3-years. Besides that there is an urgent need of Special Business Revival Loan for all entrepreneurs of J&K at interest rate of 8% with one year moratorium structured for a period of 15-years, reason being the Kashmir Valley is in Geographic Isolation and is in incessant economic irregularity with only 6-Month working season for all kind of economic activities.”

The agenda stated that in fragile situation of J&K, “we are having very limited job opportunities, 23% of 44 lakh labour force are deriving its livelihood and employment from the private sector mostly from the establishments of the large and small enterprises. Therefore, there is need of provisioning for deep restructuring of all functional standard existing loan accounts for a period of 15 years.”

“It is also requested to completely waive off the arrears of unresolved issues in the old tax regime (VAT) and there is an immediate need for release of Pending liabilities of 9-Month of Interest subvention extended to traders due to disturbances in 2016 and flood of 2014.”

“All industrial benefits needs to be extended to tourism sector and for that purpose a notification needs to be issued wherein it would be clearly mentioned that all Industrial benefits like that of manufacturing sector should be made applicable to tourism sector under service Sector category of MSME.”

The statement identified following issues which it said could be resolved on priority.

a)            Industrial Power Tariff: The Industrial Power Tariff Benefit which was sanctioned for the year 2018-19 for Hospitality sector by J&K Government order No: 267-FD of 2018, Dated 30-05-2018, and was further validated upto March-2019 by SAC Decision No: 179/23/2018 Dated: 12/12/2018, that needs to be validated and extended once for all and that order is much awaited among Tourism Stakeholders.

b)            GST Reimbursement: The finance department Vide SRO -519 and 521 has made only manufacturing units eligible for taking benefit of the Scheme of reimbursement of GST. In this regard, we request for including the left out Industrial activity of Service Sector (Hotels & Restaurants) for GST Reimbursement as an eligible Industrial activity as per DIPP Notification of 23rd April 2018.

c)            Cash Assistance: For Tourism industry of J&K, keeping in view the blink chances for resumption amid Covid-19 there is need of customized scheme for all those Units who have not availed any business loan and for them the banks should provide Cash on Credit facility or Term loan with subsidized interest rate, repayable in 15 years with 2-Year Moratorium period, to support basic salaries of tourism employees and fixed expenses.

The agenda also stated that the registration-road tax of 9% of new vehicles in auto sector needs to be rolled back in union territory of J&K because of this tax rate the purchase of commercial vehicles has been shifted to nearby states due to less tax slabs.

It is suggested that the automobile sector comprising workshops, washing stations, tyre workshops etc should be declared as Service Sector Industrial Activity with all industrial benefits, as this sector is providing jobs to lakhs of youth and this sector is the unorganized skilled sector with repairing workshops on roadside in Transport Nagar Jammu in Batmaloo and along Highways and main roads across J&K.

On education front, the agenda suggested having one time registration for all educational Institutes. “This decision will provide huge relief to education sector and will be a landmark decision of Government.”

Similarly the agenda said that there was an urgent need for outright extension for all lease agreements of all economic sectors of J&K and before inviting any foreign investments, there is an urgent need for complete mapping and diagnostic study of all industrial estates of SIDCO and SICOP to assess the need based requirements of existing unit holders, as lot of infrastructure has already been established which will be made operational by the infusion of little financial support and this immediate intervention will generate immediate employment within the UT.

“The Unit holders who will not operate their units should be given exit route so that the assets available on Government Land are utilized for the purpose. (This could be done on the pattern of JKIDFC funding for Languishing Projects by adoption of the Industrial estates under MSE Cluster Scheme by J&K Development Financial Corporation or by other Financial Institutions)

The 20-point agenda also said that the Farmer Producer Companies in Horticulture, Agriculture and allied agriculture sectors needs to be formed and promoted under SFAC, NABARD and NCDC Schemes.

“The High Density Apple Plantation Subsidy Scheme needs to be modified and the subsidy component be credited in the bank account of growers/ farmers under DBT Scheme and the growers should be allowed to procure the High density plantation material and equipment from any reputed agency.”

For self Sustained Development of Handicraft and Handloom, the statement said the off-farm producer companies of artisans and weavers should be formed. “The GST for Handicraft and Handloom should be Zero percent and the Loan under Artisan/ Weaver Card needs to be waived off.”

“Under Comprehensive Handicraft and handloom Cluster Scheme One mega Handicraft and Handloom cluster of Ministry of Textiles GOI be implemented in J&K.”

On disinvestment and merger of PSUs, the agenda stated that the order for privatization, auction and merger of PSUs of Industries and Commerce department should be implemented.

“We also suggest for considering the merger of JKTDC, JKHPMC and JK Agro Industries Development Corporation on similar lines to encourage private sector participation in the economic development of J&K.

On revival & rehabilitation of sick MSME, the agenda favoured making the implementation of Revival and Rehabilitation Scheme for MSME sector hassle free by providing soft loan through the concerned Bank and not through SIDCO

To control the exorbitant air fare to Srinagar, “we request to get these Un-served Airports under Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN-RCS) in which the Civil Aviation Policy had capped the passenger fares for flight journeys from un-served airports at Rs 2500 per hour of flying for around 500KM.”

“In this regard we had earlier requested to include the Rangreth Old Airport and Awantipora Airport under UDAAN Scheme of Ministry of Aviation for which the state government had already got clearance for Awantipora Airport from the Union Defence Ministry.

“We also request for construction of Airports in tourist destinations to cater the chartered flights.”

The agenda said the up gradation and expansion of existing tourism units at Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, and Boulevard should be allowed by means of expansion of rooms vertical or horizontal, expansion or refurbishing the old structure in tune with present market demand with ultra modern services and interior designs.

On lack of funding, the agenda said that only J&K Bank is inclined to fund any venture while other Nationalized Banks are not.

“If other banks too start to fund local industry, we may not have such problems. Moreover; the banks must be liberal with relaxations in norms for various compliances of lending.”

The agenda said the import trade volume of Kashmir is touching Rs 40000 crore annually.

“The FMCG, automobile companies have C&F agents and warehouses outside Kashmir. We believe that if all major companies that sell their products in J&K establish their C&F`s and warehouses in Kashmir, it will generate employment in Kashmir region.”

“Therefore, the infrastructure for warehouse needs to be developed and robust awareness and promotion campaign for establishing these warehouses, needs special attention from industries department.

The agenda said there is very slow progress or “we say zero progress in construction of Central University Kashmir, AIIMS Kashmir, and IIT Kashmir.”

On Trial basis, the agenda said that underserved Government Schools should run through (PPP) public private partnership and local educated unemployed youth or private schools needs to be linked with these Schools to improve the efficiency of Government Schools.

“There is need for establishment of private professional colleges and for that purpose government should identify Land clusters/Districts/Estates where all these autonomous Universities and Professional colleges will be developed through local entrepreneurs.”

The meeting was also attended by Showket Chowdhary, Executive Member, Bilal Ahmad Kawoosa, Expert Commitee Chair and Iqbal Fayaz Jan, Regional Manager PHDCCI- J&K.