Govt announces Rs 1350 cr package for business revival

J&K government on Saturday announced a Rs 1350 crore economic revival package to give a breather to the ailing businesses in the UT.

Addressing a press conference at Raj Bhawan here, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the announcement of the package was being made after a government committee recently submitted its recommendations for trade and economy revival.

Sinha said that the package was “designed after the committee met as many as 35 different traders and business delegations over the last twelve days.”

“The committee submitted its recommendations and a timely report on September 1. The Rs 1350 crore package has been approved for the business community which has been witnessing a downturn for the last so many years,” Sinha said.

The LG clarified that this package was in addition to the “Atma Nirbhar Abhiyaan” scheme of the central government announced to overcome the slump owing to outbreak of Covid-19. Reacting to a question about utilisation of “limited amount of funds” from the 2015 Prime Minister’s Development Package so far, Sinha said the latest economic package will be “strictly implemented” during the next three months.

“We will ensure that implementation of the economic package and a slew of other measures being announced today are implemented in a time bound manner during the next three months,” Sinha said.

The LG said the government’s committee has also recommended a slew of measures including financial, administrative, banking, infrastructure, GST and central government policy related support to provide stimulus to the economy of J&K.

“Rs 1400 crore has already been provided through J&K Bank and other banks under ‘Atma Nirbhar Abhiyaan’ to people in the UT. The focus of this initiative by the PM initially was on farmers, banking and power sector reforms, technology, healthcare, business. It also provided relief for the poor and needy,” Sinha said.

Sinha termed the decisions taken in the Rs 1350 crore economic package as “innovative”.

He said keeping in view the “peculiar situation” prevailing in J&K, “5 per cent interest subvention will be granted to the business community irrespective of small or big borrowers.”

The LG said this interest subvention will be available for six months of the ongoing financial year which would cost the J&K government Rs 950 crore.

“It is often that interest subvention announced is just 2 or 3 per cent and this is what even people expect. But as the business here has been receiving a body blow for the last 20 years, we have decided to announce 5 per cent interest subvention. I am thankful to the PM for this as he is keen on development of this UT,” Sinha said.

“The interest subvention will provide great relief to lakhs of people and this package will open up avenues of employment generation which is much needed here,” Sinha said.

Among other slew of measures announced, Sinha said that the government has decided to provide 50 per cent waiver on the fixed demand charges in the electricity and water bills. “We will be spending Rs 105 crore on this measure,” Sinha said.

However, later in the day taking to Twitter, Power Development Department principal secretary, Rohit Kansal clarified that the discount was only “for commercial and industrial consumers and not a discount on electricity bills for domestic consumers.”

The LG said in view of the problems faced by the transport sector during the last one year, the government has decided to “form an appropriate mechanism to extend support to the transporters.”

“50 per cent or Rs 5 lakh subsidy whichever is lower shall be provided to the transporters for replacement of old buses and the insurance premium shall  be borne by the government subject to Rs 5000 per vehicle for buses and mini buses, Rs 3000 for taxies and sumos and Rs 2000 for three wheelers,” Sinha said.

The LG said that a “structured mechanism” will be created for people in the unorganised sector such as shikarwalas, ponywalas for providing them financial support. “This will be on similar lines as that of the construction workers who get various benefits from government schemes,” Sinha said.

The LG said stamp duty was being exempted up to March 2021 in case of all borrowers.  Sinha said a “customised tourism help desk will be set up by the government for financial assistance to persons associated with the tourism sector.”

The LG said land banks will be set-up exclusively for the establishment of food park clusters. “We have already created a vast land bank. Besides, land banks for warehouses in industrial estates need to be created for which land will be provided and support will also be provided to prospective entrepreneurs,” Sinha said.

“Taking note in difficulties of the last few years, we have agreed to provide pending interest subvention with respect to restructured accounts of 2014 and 2016,” Sinha said.

The LG said that credit limit for artisans’ credit card for those involved in handloom handicraft “is being increased from the Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.”

“The artisans and people associated with these segments will be provided 7 per cent interest subvention which will provide a boost to handicrafts which is an identity of the Valley across the world,” Sinha said.

The LG said a “special desk will be set-up by J&K Bank from October 1 for addressing needs of youth and women entrepreneurs.”

“Till now we have seen two phases of Atmanirbhar Bharat. We will soon witness its third phase as well which will also provide a boost to the economy. Government of India has prepared the new industrial policy of Jammu and Kashmir which will be announced soon,” Sinha said.

“Prospective investors and those wishing to set up industries will be hugely benefited by this industrial policy,” Sinha said. However, the LG said government policy was clear that only those announcements will be made in future “for which administrative and financial approvals have already been granted,”

The LG said for the tourism sector, subsidy for installation of bio-digesters in the houseboats has been announced. “Assistance shall also be extended out of ‘JK Relief Fund’ to some 19914 shikara/houseboat owners, tourist guides, pithuwalas, dandiwalas, sledge walas, pony riders and cash assistance of Rs 1000 to all of them given for last 3 months shall be extended for further six months ending 31st December 2020,” Sinha said.

The LG said there are more than 3100 artists who have lost their livelihood during the pandemic. “The artists associated with the cultural academy shall be paid Rs 1000 per month out of ‘JK Relief Fund’ for a period of nine  months from April 1, 2020,” the LG said.

The comprehensive ‘Business Revival Package’ also includes newly rolled out “special Covid schemes like Guaranteed Emergency Credit Loan (GECL), Working Capital Demand Loan (WCDL) facility for Private Educational Institutions.”

“J&K Business Support Loan Scheme for hotels and guest houses shall be rolled out on similar lines. Considering the loss suffered by the business community, there shall be extension of additional funding to all eligible borrowers for revival of their stalled business under Guaranteed emergency credit loan,” reads the details of the economic package announced by the government.

As per the details of the package announced by the government, for agriculture sector, district level bankers committee shall be constituted to ensure loan coverage for agriculture and allied non-farm activities under Mudra loans.

“Meetings will be organised every month to overcome difficulties faced by the borrowers,” he said. “Moreover J&K Bank shall frame a customised “Help Tourism” scheme for financial assistance to persons associated with the Tourism Sector with attractive pricing and repayment features.

“All the stakeholders shall be taken on board for any modifications. As far as tax concessions are concerned, the filing of the GST reimbursement claims has also been extended till 31st December, 2020. Handholding to remove difficulties in filing returns and mechanisms to avoid delays in reimbursement claims shall be instituted.

“The accumulated interest shall be converted into funded interest term loan,” said the details of the package announced by the government.