JAMMU, JAN 15: Senior CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami while speaking on the budget has highlighted the following issues:-
1/ The two significant measures that squeezed the people were demonetization and GST. It crippled informal sector of our economy contrary to the claims of the government regarding curbing corruption and black money. It led to job losses only. The introduction of GST which was introduced with much fanfare, has not only increased burdens on the people but has also undermined the federal structure. It adversely affected the rights of the states. GST put new burdens on the common people, small enterprises, traders and on unorganized sector. Agriculture and allied sectors have also faced the brunt. Contrary to the claims that GST has brought down prices of commodities, the fact remains that due to the iniquitous tax structure, there has been increase in the prices of many commodities and services.
2/ The state’s economy is projected to grow at 6.9% in 2018-19 which is less than the 8.5% growth rate estimated for 2017-18. Agriculture which includes crops, livestock, fishing, horticulture is expected to grow at 6.8% in 2018-19 which is less than the growth rate of 8.4% estimated for 2017-18. This is also confirmed in Governor’s Address ‘where it is mentioned that contribution of agriculture and allied sectors to the GSDP has been steadily declining over the past decades’ and in this budget, there is no substantial plan visible to rejuvenate this ailing sector. It seems that it is not the priority area for the government and, as such, govt. has not allotted suitable budgetary support to this sector. Agriculture, be it crops, animal husbandry, horticulture, saffron, fisheries, is virtually neglected, with only half hearted references here and there. The farmer of our state is in acute distress and there is no effort to provide him support in terms of loan waivering, input subsidies and ensuring market for his produce. We are still lagging behind and dependent on import of mutton, fisheries, poultry, milk etc. from other states. The quality of our walnut has deteriorated and nothing substantial for its improvement in terms of establishment of walnut processing units and other measures has been mentioned in the budget. Special package must be given to the farmers as they face problems due to heavy rainfall, hailstorm and draught leading to crop damages. Farmers and growers are also subjected to losses due to sub-standard and spurious fertilizers, pesticides and other inputs No attention has been paid to this problem. Crop insurance scheme is confined to announcements only.
3/ Handicraft sector has virtually collapsed. The condition of artisans is hapless who need support for daily livelihood. Constitution of artisan’s welfare board should have been proposed on the lines of construction workers board to provide some sort of succor to this section.
4/ Thousands of cases in respect of old age, widow pension, assistance to specially abled persons, marriage assistance etc. are pending in every district headquarter. Being a welfare state, budgetary provisions for one time settlement should have been made in this connection.
Besides, An increase of Rs.500/- per month in the honorarium of anganwadi workers and helpers was announced by the Minister Social Welfare, last year. But no budgetary support has been made to fulfill the commitment of the Minister concerned.
5/ Our state also suffers from mal-nutrition thrust should have been made to strengthen the Mid Day Meals on the pattern of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Instead, it has proposed Akshay Patra, an NGO for starting a pilot project in two districts of Jammu region. This NGO runs on corporate support and serious allegations have been leveled against its activities is some states.
6/ Mention of infusion of Rs.225 crore to Cooperative Banks have been made in the budget, which are virtually at the verge of extinction and have become den of corruption. Banking system in general is burdened with bad loans in the whole of the country. In the last three and a half years, Rs.2,29,082 crore worth of loans of nationalized banks have been written off . Despite equity infusion of Rs.500 crore made by the government last year to help the J&K Bank, its health continues to deteriorate. What is our share in this bank around 59% and still it is not accountable in this august House. What about NPA amounting to thousands of crores you had mentioned last year. Why don’t you provide details to this House? It cannot be left to the mercy of those who are responsible for its deterioration. This House has legitimate interest and privilege to discuss in detail functioning of J&K bank. If there is nothing to hide, why should the Government not provide this House an opportunity to discuss its functioning?