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KCCI Urges J&K Admin for Measures to Revive Weakening Economy

Anees Zargar |
Among the main demands from the trade body included the time-bound release of payments as the local industries, which are faced with a spate of political and economic challenges, are reporting a substantial amount of their capital locked up due to such delays.
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Srinagar: On Tuesday, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) put forth several demands before the UT administration seeking ease of operational hurdles to aid the region's economy, which the trade body said is in a "critical" state.

According to the chamber's general secretary, Farooq Amin, a delegation from the KCCI led by its President Sheikh Ashiq met with Vivek Bhardwaj, the additional chief secretary of UT's Industries & Commerce department, in the summer capital of Srinagar yesterday.

“The delegation highlighted issues related to the business community that were discussed in detail,” Farooq said.

The trade body said that the overall losses incurred over the years have resulted in an unprecedented level of stress on the working capital and finances of the local business establishments but added that despite several interventions by the government to extend support, the continuous "cycle of disruptions has failed their objectives".

Amongst the main demands from the trade body included the time-bound release of payments as the local industries, which are faced with a spate of political and economic challenges, are reporting a substantial amount of their capital locked up due to such delays.

Local industries supplying to the government have reported a substantial amount of their capital locked up due to inordinate delays in the release of their payments. The KCCI requests that the mechanism be devised for the automatic time-bound release of payments by the government.

Similarly, the traders' body also urged the administration to immediately release funds in the Handicraft Department, where scores of beneficiaries of the Self Help Group Scheme have been awaiting the release of payments for months, putting a burden on the overall business. The body urged the authorities to exempt the handicraft sector from GST, give all benefits to the handicraft sector, and declare it a "Special Economic Zone".

"All handmade items should be exempted from taxes like GST. To preserve the livelihood of weavers, artisans, traders, and exporters who are involved in handmade handicrafts and also the famous art of the Cottage Industry, the GST must be waived off on Pashmina Shawls, Carpets, Papier Mache, Crewel, Chain Stitch and Wood Carving," KCCI said.

The body also informed the finance secretary that there is a need to "subsidize" freight service, both air and road, owing to the valley's geographical disadvantage in logistics in respect of road transport.

Also, GST reimbursement for the amount paid by the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, the KCCI said, is delayed "inordinately" and needs to be released in the time-bound manner as committed by the government.

The KCCI also urged the government to support the manufacturers and exporters to sustain in what they see as a "turmoil" as most of the accounts are either stressed or turned Non Performing Assets (NPA).

"Exporters are facing a lot of challenges and difficulties as regard to exports from Kashmir region is concerned," a statement from the body pointed out.

The body also called for the new industrial policy benefits to be extended for existing industries like Interest Subsidy on Working Capital and Term Loans.

Constituted in the year 1924, the KCCI is one of the oldest apex trade bodies and has been at the forefront of promoting business, trade and economic relations in the region. The body has claimed that the economy of Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing a slump for the past many years due to economic and political uncertainty, for which they have vehemently advocated for economic packages from the Central government.

The general secretary of the KCCI said that due to the thirteen months of a continuous lockdown and for other reasons, the current situation of the business community is critical, and there is a need for amending various guidelines and deadlines concerning the filing of tax returns and submission of taxes.

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