Union budget cuts no ice with Kashmir’s biz community

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The union budget presented by Finance Minister Niramal Sitharaman for Jammu and Kashmir has cut no ice with the Valley’s business community who had hoped for a special financial package after continuous strikes devastated the region’s economic structure.

The Government of India has allocated Rs 35581 crore for Jammu and Kashmir in the Union budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament on Tuesday.

Of which, Rs 33923 crore has been allocated to meet revenue deficit gap/ resource gap of UT, Rs 279 crore grants as disaster response fund, Rs 273 crore as rehabilitation for Dal—Nigeen lake, Rs 476.44 crore grant towards equity contribution for 624 MW Kiru and Rs 500 crore support for capital expenditure.

President Kashmir Chamber and Commerce and Industries (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq said they were expecting a special package for the Kashmir Valley keeping in mind the losses that state incurred in the past three years.

“The budget has once again neglected the state. After continuous lockdown we were expecting a big announcement but nothing was taken into consideration,” Ashiq said.

Ashiq said GoI should have announced a “special policy” for the region to help it to overcome the financial constraints caused due to the floods.

Ashiq said that from August 2019 Kashmir’s economy has suffered over Rs 50,000 crore losses while around one lakh youth lost their jobs during the same period.

According to the KCCI, of Rs 50,000 crore loss, around Rs 10,000 crore loss has been incurred in this year due to the lockdown.

He said Kashmir has never been a part of India’s growth trajectory, especially for the last two decades.

Jammu and Kashmir’s contribution is only 0.8 percent to India’s total Gross domestic product, while our unemployment rate is at 15 percent in comparison to national 6.6 percent.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Union Budget 2022 speech, said India’s fiscal deficit for the financial year 2021-22 is estimated at 6.9 per cent versus the revised estimates of 6.8 per cent.

According to details, the total revenue received by the Government under the head of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the domestic supply of Goods and Services has reduced from Rs 4010 crore to Rs 3273 crore this fiscal.

President Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation (KTMF) Muhammad Yaseen Khan said the budget has found no takers from business fraternity of Kashmir.

“The business community has incurred losses to the tune of Rs 50,000 crores. Traders like us who are already under financial crises have been once again ignored,” said Khan.

Khan said that the lockdown post 5 August 2019 (Abrogation of Article 370) followed by the Covid-19 fall out, Kashmir’s economy is broken and it needs a special package to come out from the losses incurred in the past three years.

“We welcome that the President talked about opening up new tunnels, but as a businessman I see nothing in this budget,” he said.  “If the introduction of GST [goods and service tax] had improved the economy then how come we are in deficit today?”

Meanwhile, political parties have also expressed their disappointment about the Union Budget allocated to J-K.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC)  said the budget 2022-23 is a blend of “sophistry, wordplay” and  has left stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir “excluded and ignored.”

NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said that the budget has stared clear of Jammu and Kashmir and left the issues confronting working classes, traders, horticulturalists, artisans, small businesses, MSMEs untended.

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