Biz community showers bouquets, and some bricks, on Drabu’s budget

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: The first budget tabled by the PDP-BJP government on Sunday evoked a mixed response from the business community.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ashiq Hussain said that some of the measures, such as the monthly allowance of Rs 1000 for the girl child, are laudable.
“We will take a look at the budget tomorrow to be able to say anything comprehensively about it. Still, we must say it was a challenge for the government to prepare the budget in such a short duration,” Hussain said.
“We had lot of expectations from it, especially with regard to relief and rehabilitation of the flood-hit traders. It seems the government’s hasn’t a clear picture on it. We will call a special meeting to look into that aspect.”
He said the idea of chartered flights to neutralise the impact of skyrocketing airfares, which affected the influx of tourists to the Valley, is unique and would boost the tourism industry.
“The abolition of water tax (abiyana) and focus on horticulture and agriculture is significant,” Hussain added.
President Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association Mohammad Showkat Chaudhary described the budget as “satisfactory”, which will have a “positive impact on the tourism sector”.
“Many of our demands such as exemption of tax for flood-hit traders have been accepted. It will boost the tourism sector and we are quite satisfied with it,” Chaudhary said.
Kashmir Economic Alliance and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, however, termed it as disappointing.
“We don’t understand why budget has nothing to offer for the flood-hit business community even as the quantum of devastation is huge. We had pinned hopes on the finance minister but there’s nothing much for us in it,” said chairman KEA Mohammad Yasin Khan.
Businessman and civil society activist Shakeel Qalandar said the budget should eradicate the dependency syndrome and find out ways to boost state’s economy.
“We have high expectations from Haseeb Drabu… the budget has to be growth oriented. An initiative for apple growers to shift to high density trees is a good program and will boost production on the pattern of Europe,” Qalandar said.
“Every step has been taken with due care. It’s a result and target-oriented budget. There are some deficiencies but the benefits are overwhelming. The revenue loss insurance scheme is a welcome step and will draw investors to invest here. The Finance Minister has tried to target every sector and it will yield results for sure,” said Qalandar.
President Federation Chamber of Industry Kashmir Muhammad Ashraf Mir said the budget is “not as friendly as it is made out to be”.
“Most of the pre-budget demands submitted to the government by us haven’t been incorporated in the document. We had requested for remission in the interest for 2008, 2009 and 2010. That has not happened. They have given remission for post-flood period only,” Mir said.