By Mir Saqib
A cursory look at the figures and the facts provided by the Government about industrial growth and output may give an encouraging picture. However, the prosaic reality is that industry in Jammu and Kashmiris facing a difficult situation especially from the vantage point of industrialists. The issues are basic and elemental. The germination of an idea to the physical existence of project is a nightmare for a person who intends to set up an industry here.
I will outline the main difficulties that industrialists in Kashmir face. It begins with clearances and permissions.
The government claims of the existence of a Single Window Clearance (SWC) is just mentioned in the guidelines published by the Industries and Commerce Department. A single window is an illusion for the budding entrepreneur. What one sees and faces is that this “window” throws open an unending number of windows and hurdles that an entrepreneur has to overcome on his own. What mars the prospects of any further accomplishment lies in obtaining the No Objection Certificates( NOCs ) because of the lack of inter department coordination. Meetings by top officials for clearing these hurdles are held and stuff is discussed but things never materialize on the ground because this does not percolate to the lower echelons in the system.. Moreover, some of the clearances that are not even mandatory too are piled upon people. All this is agonizing for entrepreneurs and industrialists
The unease of doing business is so harsh that many lose hope of being entrepreneurs.
In the domain of procurement, supplies and taxation, the same saga repeats itself. Industrialists/ Entrepreneurs have to approach the District Industries Centre Office for procurement of machines from outside state while taking the Sales Tax Department’s And Excise Department’s consent for importing such material. Getting registration from these is a mammoth task for budding and aspiring industrialists.
Ideally, there should be enough support to industrialists to import machines and the necessary equipment and government department within themselves should have chalked mechanisms..
Similarly, the state has placed many industries in the green category. This means that such industries should not generate pollution. The clearances needed here, in this domain take months altogether.
All these complexities and obstructions in the systems made the World Bank, in its assessment report , place Jammu and Kashmir, in among the worst states to do business with category.
A report titled “Assessment of the State of Implementation of Business Reforms” released in Sep 2015 took stock of the reforms implemented by states between January 2015 till June 30 2015. The report assessed the states on good practices and on different parameters. However, Jammu and Kashmir , did not figure at all while several other states were lauded for their role in implement their reforms.
One amendment that I consider important and is practiced in other states is giving online temporary sales tax registration to young entrants for six months with a minimal fees. This will encourage a young aspiring entrepreneur and allow him/her to commence and operate business without delay in documentation, and in due course of time, he can shift to permanent registration.
The state government, made an effort in the previous industrial policy to attract entrepreneurs to industry. An incentive of 5 percent interest rebate subsidy was given to term loans raised against establishing industries. Consequently, many young professionals made a choice and forayed into setting of industry but in its new industrial policy , this subsidy has been scrapped, for reasons best known to the policy makers.
The ideas and vision of these youngsters to take from society and give back more to society and to enable each of budding ideas a shape for better future of consumer driven industries that can tap Kashmir’s virgin consumable economy. All in all then aspiring industrialists and potential entrepreneurs face immense problems of a structural, institutional and systemic in nature. This not only creates difficulties for extant industrialists but also discourages potential entrepreneurs. The need of the hour is for young and aspiring industrialists and entrepreneurs to form an interest and a pressure group and come together under one umbrella. We can then highlight our issues and present suggestions to improve the industrial landscape in Jammu and Kashmir.
The author is president of the Consortium of Young Industrialists , Kashmir. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org