Srinagar Sep 02: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assured all possible help to businessmen of Jammu and Kashmir from the Centre.
Kashmir’s economy has witnessed heavy losses since August last year.
As per the estimates of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the Kashmir economy has suffered losses over Rs 40,000 crore for the last one year.
On Tuesday, in a webinar with the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the industry representatives said that the Centre has to take prompt steps to save the dying industry and the growing unemployment in the union territory.
Organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Peace Forum, the webinar presented a ground report of the situation in the UT.
KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq said the Union Finance Minister keenly listened to the issues raised by the business community.
“We told her that every sector in Kashmir has suffered badly for the last one year. There is no cash flow in markets. Over five lakh people have become jobless. We told her that a special package should be announced for every sector,” Ashiq told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service KINS.
“The Finance Minister told us that she already spoke to Lieutenant Governor regarding businesses in Jammu and Kashmir. She assured us that the Centre will provide help to the business community in the best possible way,” he added.
Sitharaman has said that the Centre was keen to listen and understand the ground situation as that helped in formulating policies.
She said, “We are interacting with all the stakeholders in the industry and we have been benefitted from this. We want to keep our ears close to the ground and based on the inputs from various stakeholders, policy changes are made.”
She said that she had met the new J&K Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha who also spoke about greater support and more resources for the UT.
While commencing the interaction, the J&K Peace Forum chairman, Satish Mahaldar said, “The primary objective of the meeting was to primarily understand how we can achieve sustainable industrial development in all regions for increasing the rate of growth, value of output, employment, income and overall economic development of the UT. The trend in the development of J&K is not encouraging; it has been lagging behind most of the states with regard to the growth of the net state domestic product at current prices. J&K UT is one of those regions in the country where both the demographic situation and level of socio-economic development remains far from satisfactory.”
“It is important to discuss how to revive potential viable sick industrial units so as to put optimum use of the capital and other resources which are already employed in such enterprises. It is important to know from the industry experts how we can strive towards balanced economic and social development in all regions of the UT by promoting industrialization,” said Mahaldar.
Sopore Industrial Association president Javaid Ahmad Bhat said, “Given the unique position of the J&K .and the situation it has been in for the last 30 years, it is necessary that J&K has a separate Industrial policy. A policy which is a ground report based in the UT.” He said that most of the policy making happens in the closed room environment with no connection with the actual situation and this is gravely affecting the industry sector in J&K. He suggested that a land bank be created in the UT for the industrial sector as a lot of land existed which can be put to good use.
Lalit Mahajan, Bari Brahmana Industrial Association president said, “J&K industry, especially the MSMEs are reeling under economic distress for the past one year. There is an urgent need for incentives. If MSMEs are helped, unemployment to some extent can be arrested.” He said that J&K borders are with Pakistan and China where no trade is possible, hence the need to help the industry by giving special attention.
Taking up the case of the sick PSUs, Wajahat Durrani, president J&K PSUs employees said, “The PSUs in the state are in a bad condition, but they have a huge potential if the right attention and help is given.” He cited the case of the J&KSRTC, which currently had only 300 buses to cater to a population of 80 lakh people. He said that if right incentives are given, J&KSRTC can be turned around into a frontier organization. He said similarly other ventures in horticulture, etc can help in generating employment and strengthening the state economy.