J&K under severe fiscal distress since August 2019: Altaf Bukhari

File Pic of Altaf Bukhari

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) President AltafBukhari on Saturday urged the Union Finance Ministry to end the “differential treatment” meted with business fraternity of J&K and demanded a separate stimulus package covering the lockdown period since August last year, in order to revive the business activity in the region.

In a statement, Bukhari said it was extremely disheartening that the industry and other business communities of J&K have been superficially covered for the benefits of a special package of Rs 20,000 crore announced by the government of India to revive the shattered economy in the country.

He said the industrial sector, trade and commerce activities in Jammu and Kashmir have come to a grinding halt since August 5.

“Whatever was left in the trade and other business activity was crushed by COVID lockdown. Be it agriculture, horticulture, tourism and hotel industry, all the mainstay of J&K economy is under severe depression since August last year.”

He said in Jammu, the tourism and its allied sectors especially the hotel industry was completely shut by the suspension of Vaishno Devi Yatra.

“Same is the case with Jammu’s agriculture sector especially its Basmati producing farmers who have suffered a huge financial distress because of the prevailing situation,” Bukhari said.

He said the COVID19 pandemic has further squeezed all these economic sectors which can only be revived by a serious intervention of the government of India.

“To begin with the government must go for interest subvention for the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 to agriculture, horticulture, tourism, hotel, and other industrial and business sectors of J&K and provide soft loans to them at least up to 30 per cent of their investments,” Bukhari said, while also stressing on release of payment to MSME unit holder across Jammu and Kashmir.

Bukhari urged the government to release long pending dues to MSME unit holders of Jammu and Srinagar which amounts to Rs 100 crores under centre’sSaubhagya Scheme implemented by Power Development Department.

“Similarly, the other MSME unit holders have around Rs 250 crores pending with various government departments, PSU’s, especially SICOP,” Bukhari said.

He said it was extremely unfortunate that the PDD had assured payment within 10 days to MSME unit holders as per the MOU signed with them. “Even after bagging an award of Rs. 100 crore from government of India for timely completion of the project and for being ahead of all other states in the country, the unit holders responsible for bringing laurels to J&K are still craving for their hard earned money,” Bukhari said.

The JKAP President appealed the Prime Minister NarendraModi and the Union Minister to intervene in order to end this discrepancy shown by the Ministry of Finance and ensure a separate financial stimulus package for the J&K in view the reported loss of around Rs. 30,000 crores since August 2019.