While trade and business bodies of Jammu and Kashmir are still grappling with the losses post abrogation of Article 370, the recently passed budget has just added to the already existing disappointments. The Jammu and Kashmir Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has dismayed stakeholders and political parties, alike.
The majority of stakeholders said that have been ignored and their grievances were not taken into consideration before presenting the budget.
Speaking to NewsClick, former president of the Bari Brahmana Industrial Association (BBIA) and prominent industrialist, Anil Suri, said, “The difficulties we are facing in implementing the industrial policies in ease of doing business were never discussed. Normally, pre-budget meetings are held but nothing of this sort has been done this time.”
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The stakeholders expressed their disappointment saying that the economy had suffered heavy losses after the abrogation of Article 370 and the budget was short of their expectations. As per the reports, the economy of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered losses worth Rs 15,000 crore since August 5.
Industrialists said that they were allocated incentives previously, to offset the location disadvantage but they still stand unimplemented. “We still remain a land locked state. There is only one entry and one exit point. We were provided certain incentives but they are not implemented. We require production-related incentives. The more we produce, the more our economy will be better,” said Suri.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce president, Sheikh Aashiq, believes that a new history has been created by ignoring the major stakeholders. “This has happened for the first time. We were not consulted at all,” he added.
Recently, the administration had conducted roadshows across the country in February 2020 in the run up to the Investors’ Summit. While the administration is attracting investments and industries to Jammu and Kashmir, the industrialists believe that the real fight is to keep the existing industries going. “We want some discussion to take place. They are talking about new industries and investors summit. But when small industries are fighting to survive how can they think of new investors,” added Suri.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] member and former legislator Mohd Yousuf Tarigami termed the budget as a“jugglery of figures”. Reacting to the government’s proposal to fill up 50,000 vacancies in the government sector, Tarigami said, “After the abrogation of Article 370, then Governor Satya Pal Malik had announced that 50,000 jobs would be made available for the youth in the next three months. The latest announcement by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament seems to be a similar promise. It is nothing new but repetition of what has been said in the past.”
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Tarigami also raised concerns about the thousands of casual labourers, need-based daily wagers, scheme workers and others who are without wages for the last more than eight months. “The J&K Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister in Parliament is nothing new but jugglery of figures. On ground, even those projects are pending which had started before the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government came to power in the Centre in 2014. The projects which were started under UPA-II are still incomplete,” he said, while adding that the lives of people in Kashmir have come to a halt.
Rebuffing the claims that the total budget has increased this time, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said, “This is just a routine budget. As per the planning commission, there should be normal increase of 25% so the increase is because of that. Sixty-two per cent of the budget is about salary and pension and only 35% is for development and capital. Looking at the losses that Jammu and Kashmir has faced, the budget should have been doubled. This budget falls short of genuine needs of Jammu and Kashmir.”