Drabu presents tech-savvy Budget

Drabu presents tech-savvy Budget

Jammu: Finance minister Haseeb Drabu presented his third Budget on Wednesday, introducing it as “a computerised budgeting system known as ‘Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System (BEAMS)’.”
“As soon as the budget is released, the departments can allocate funds to their field officers through this system,” he said.
“The overall technological revolution in banking and financial services calls for a reform of the government’s payment system. I propose to replace the present treasury system, which is geographically demarcated, by a functional aligned pay and accounts office {POA] system,” he said.
Drabu said he was “deeply pained to inform the house that in our premier institution, J&K Bank, there have been some serious lapses in corporate governance and management failures over the last few years.”
“As a promoter of the bank, we did make some efforts in the last two years to sort out the issues of asset quality without impairing the autonomy of the bank. The bank has declared NPAs of Rs 6,000 crore. There is also a significant under-provisioning of impaired assets.  As a result of which the bank has had to declare a huge loss of Rs 600 crore for the quarter ended September 2016-17. There will be more unpleasant news this year. But I hope that the bank will go back to its profit making ways in the first or second quarter of the next financial year.”
He said he was “happy to inform that we have succeeded in working out a comprehensive insurance scheme for nine crops including paddy, wheat, maize, apple, mango, saffron, pulses, and oil seeds against damages from most of the natural disasters including hail, floods, and drought.”
To protect our invaluable heritage, all the artefacts, rare manuscripts, paintings and other priceless items in the Toshkhana and the J&K Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages, Drabu announced a Rs-5 crore insurance cover for them.
On employment initiatives, the minister said that as of now, there were 27 employment schemes being implemented in the state of which 12 schemes had 100 percent funding from the Government of India and six schemes to the extent of 90 percent. The state government has its own nine self-employment schemes, he informed.
While appreciating the role of his government he maintained, “The government employees are receiving their GPF claims within one day while earlier they used to wait for 6-8 months to receive their own money deposited with the government. For the first time, pensioners have been sanctioned full pension upon attaining the age of 80.”
“There are a lot of people working for the state government whose salaries come from the Union Government through centrally sponsored schemes. Be it the SSA and RMSA teachers, Anganwadi workers, or those engaged under the National Health Mission, their salaries are not paid on time but now we have included provision in budget to redress the grievances. Their salaries will be released on time,” he said.
He informed that an estimated 61,000 casual, seasonal, ad-hoc, temporary, NYCs and various other categories of persons were engaged in various departments without proper authorisation. While the previous government engaged them without thinking of source of wages or remuneration for them, the present government treats this problem as a social issue which needs to be addressed.
While appreciating the support extended by employees for turning down the announcement of the 7th Pay Commission in their favour, he, however, announced the implementation of 7th Pay Commission for government employees from 1st April, 2018.
Over Recruitment Rules he said, “Most of them were framed several decades back and have lost relevance in the context of today’s youth’s educational attainment, as well as emerging job requirements.”
“Taking cognisance of the fact that the transport sector suffers every time there is unrest, we have proposed to waive off token tax and passenger tax for six months from 1st July, 2016, to 31st December, 2016,” he said.

Budget Estimates for 2017-18
The minister briefed that during 2017-18, the state government intends to spend Rs 80,000 crore. Of this, developmental expenditure would be about Rs 31,000 crore and current expenditure would be almost Rs 49,000 crore.  This level of expenditure will be financed through non-debt creating receipts of Rs 58,000 crore and about Rs 18,000 crore of borrowings.
Given the composition of revenues, he said that we have a revenue surplus of more than Rs 9,300 crore, yet there will be a resource gap of Rs 3,137 crore for which ways and means have to be found during the course of the year.
He informed that the main focus of 2017-18 will be timely rollout of projects under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) of Rs 80,000 crore for development and reconstruction of physical and economic infrastructure. The package caters to the need to strengthen economic and social infrastructure and to provide for the balanced development of the three regions of J&K. The major focus in the infrastructure sector in the state will be on physical connectivity through up gradation of road network. All unconnected roads and hamlets will be covered through different projects.
On taxation, Drabu acknowledged that this year will see a major change in the national indirect tax regime in terms of a move towards a uniform Goods and Services Tax. The Constitutional Amendment, which does not apply to J&K, has been passed by Parliament and there is time till September 2017 to roll out the proposed GST.
“There are still some issues to be resolved with regard to CGST and IGST for all states. As for J&K, the proposed GST law is not applicable to J&K. We will have to work out in what form it can be applied given the fact that under our General Sales Tax Act 1962, we tax services unlike other states that derive the said powers from our own Constitution. Central excise and Central sales tax, which will be replaced by the CGST and IGST respectively, already are applicable but only to goods and not services. As regards SGST we will formulate our own law and bring it to the legislature.
‘’All medicines are at present taxed at 5 per cent; however tonics, food supplements, appetizers, dietician foods etc. are taxed at 14.5 per cent. This is resulting in misclassification and disputes. In order to remove this anomaly, all such products are proposed to be placed in 5 per cent tax category,” he said.
Regarding the demands of press, he announced revising the advertisement tariffs.
He said, “I propose to increase the tariffs to cover the inflation and increased cost of newsprint and other materials. The Information Department will notify the tariff hike.”
The minister announces that the building currently occupied by the Information Department at Polo View Srinagar will be handed to the journalist fraternity for setting up ‘Aiwaan-e-Sahafat’, a Kashmir Press Centre.

Highlights
Soon after budget is released, govt departments can allocate funds to field officers through BEAMS
Pay and Accounts Office to replace current treasury system
J&K Bank NPAs of Rs 6k crore and loss of Rs 600 for quarter ending September a cause for concern
Insurance scheme for 9 crops
Insurance cover for heritage items
7th Pay Commission to be implemented from April 2018
Govt intends to spend Rs 80,000 Cr this financial year
J&K to formulate its own law on Goods and Services Tax
All medicines and food supplements, etc., to be uniformly taxed at 5%
Aiwaan-e-Sahafat for journalists
Speed up spending
Rs. 10000crore under Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at current prices Rs. 151916crore, equivalent to 14.9 % growth at current prices over the previous year.
For Construction and other workers, cash credit facility up to Rs.10,000, accidental insurance cover of Rs. 2 lakh, life insurance cover of Rs. 2 lakh, health insurance cover of Rs. 30,000
Recruitment rules to be revised within a year to synchronize job requirements with commensurate educational requirement.
Regularization on contractual basis of all those who have given their land to state government.
Setting up of a Zoo each in Kashmir and Jammu.
All Terrain Mountain Bike scheme for boys with a provision of Rs 3 crore.
Institute a football league.
State-owned Asset Reconstruction Company to buy impaired assets of State Subjects
J&K Bank to get equity infusion of Rs 530 crores: Drabu
Token tax and passenger tax waived off for six months of uprising

(With inputs from Nouman Parvez)

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