JAMMU: Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather Tuesday held threadbare pre-budget consultations with cross section of people from different walks of the life here, according to an official statement.
The delegations of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries led by its chairman Vikrant Kuthiala, Institute of Public Opinion, headed by Arun K Gupta, members of Sales Tax Bar Association, Intellectuals and some prominent Academicians met the minister and his team of senior functionaries of the Finance Department and put-forth their suggestions for the next years’ budget proposals with an eye to make it pro-people and trader friendly.
The economic advisor of J&K Government Jalil Ahmed Khan, Principal Secretary Finance, BB Viyas, Commissioner Commercial Taxes, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, Excise Commissioner, Vineeta Gupta, Special Secretary Finance Shakeel-ur- Rehman, Additional Secretary Finance, Showkat Aijaz and Dy Commissioners of various wings of Commercial Taxes Department were also present during the Pre-budget consultation meetings.
Speaking on the occasion, the finance minister said that holding of pre-budget consultation meetings with the stake holders provide a wonderful exercise to get correct feedback about ground relations and basic needs of the common people for which, I have made it a point to listen to all stake holders before summing up the Budget proposals. He assured the delegations that their genuine and thought provoking suggestions put forth during deliberations shall be kept under active consideration while finalizing the Budget proposals. He asked them to contribute their bit in mobilization of revenue resources, which was primarily imperative for economic prosperity and sustained development of the state. He said that the state has very limited resources but problems are many. Even then, the government has been trying to provide maximum tax concessions to the trade and industry adding that no fresh taxes were levied on common people during the Budgets presented during last 5 years. Instead, levying fresh taxes, it has been preferred to bring more reforms in the existing taxation setup by putting in place strict monitoring mechanism and bringing more transparency and accountability in the overall budget management system. He said it has been the sincere effort of the government to make procedures easier for trade and industry besides ensuring welfare and prosperity of the common people.
Responding to some suggestions, the minister said that the government will take every possible step to make relations with business community more cordial adding that taxation and law enforcing agencies have been, in clear cut terms, asked not to harass any dealer unnecessarily. He said all possibilities shall be explored to extend tax amnesty again to the defaulting traders and businessmen once the court stay on this concession is got vacated.
He also referred to the proposed Goods and Services Tax regime, being implemented in the country shortly and assured that all the stake holders will be taken on board before its implementation in the State.
The main suggestions put forth by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries included grant of incentives for overseas exports, setting up of more Industrial Estates, withdrawal of electricity duty on Industry. They also suggested introducing Aerial Cabling Bunching System to make hooking impossible, which will help in enforcing energy accounting. They also urged to promote Border Tourism in a big way besides establishment of an Advanced Ruling and dispute Settlement Authority.
The IPO asked for stringent measures to check adulteration in food items, construction of Old Age Homes for convenience of elderly people, measures to tackle Mal-Nutrition, practical and realistic way of solving un-employment by promoting industrialization, development of new housing colonies with shopping complex provisions, multi parking facilities, provision of Sales Tax Amnesty Scheme and conferring land ownership rights to Industrial units.
The Sales Tax Bar Association presented a list of proposal for bringing Amendments in the existing Sales Tax Laws.