The Union Budget 2019-20 presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has evoked mixed response from business community in Jammu and Kashmir which was hoping for some big-ticket announcements for the state. However, they are hopeful for few takeaways once the government reveals details of the sector-specific schemes and packages it announced on Friday.
To mention, it was expected that BJP-led central government’s focus on J&K would result in some special announcements for the state. However, Nasir Hamid Khan, senior vice-president, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the budget has “completely ignored” horticulture, tourism and handicrafts.
However, Khan says that 2 per cent interest subvention to Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) on fresh and incremental loans announced in the budget will support local industry.
“We were hoping for some relief for business community which has been suffering since 2014 floods. Nothing has come out of the budget for the state but we hope once it comes out in detail, there is something to cheer about,” Khan said.
Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, chairman, PHD Chamber (Kashmir chapter) says huge fund allocations for infrastructure development is a good thing, adding that proposed upgradation of 1.25 lakh kilometers of roads should include roads in J&K as well.
Chaya said the focus on UDAN (ude desh ka aam nagrik) aviation scheme for making air travel affordable must include connectivity between the Valley and other areas especially Jammu.
“It is vital for tourism that airfares are made affordable for visitors and locals travelling on this sector. It has been our long pending demand that UDAN scheme be extended to entire Jammu and Kashmir so that air tickets are available on subsidized prices,” Chaya said. Chaya said he was hopeful that Jammu and Kashmir features among the 17 tourist circuits which the central government has decided to promote in days to come.
This time the budget is nothing but a “jugglery of numbers”, said Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association, while adding that pre-poll promises made by BJP-led government have not been fulfilled.
“There is nothing for common man in the budget as it has nothing out of the box. Rs 1 per litre cess on petrol will be a burden on common man. There is a lot in the budget to appease big corporates and NRIs but nothing for us,” Khan said.
Most industrialists say government’s urgency on railway line to the Valley and metro rail project in the twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar was welcome. However, they say lacklustre approach in executing such projects was a major loophole in implementation of most of central projects in the state.
Rakesh Gupta, president, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the union budget has a lot of focus on rural India, start-ups and production of defense equipment, electronic products, which he says will lead to self-sufficiency. However, Gupta says he was disappointed with no special packages or schemes announced for local industry and business community. “Infusion of funds in infrastructure will help job creation. But on other hand there is no consideration for J&Ks industry which is going through a tough phase,” Gupta said.