SRINAGAR: Ahead of the presentation of Budget for fiscal 2018-19 in the state legislature, Minister for Finance and Labour and Employment, Dr Haseeb A Drabu today held extensive deliberations with the Kashmir Inc at the Excise and Taxation Complex here.
Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, Parvaiz Iqbal Khateeb, Excise Commissioner, Mohammad Javed Khan, Additional Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, Dr Shamim Ahmad Wani and other officers of the Finance Department were present during pre-budget consultations.
Representatives of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir, PHD Chamber Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation and Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Associations, Kashmir Economic Forum, Federation Chambers of Industries, All Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union Kashmir, Transporters Unions and Office Bearers of Kashmir Press Club also participated in the discussions.
During the meetings, Dr Drabu invited suggestions from the trade leaders that could be incorporated into the upcoming budget for reviving the economy of Jammu and Kashmir which has suffered immensely due to the natural disaster of 2014 and unfavourable socio-political atmosphere last year.
The Kashmir Inc urged the Finance Minister to take immediate measures keeping in view the September 2014 Floods and the 2016 situation which had a debilitating impact on the business community, especially small traders, and overall economy of the Kashmir Valley.
“Due to the situation of 2016 and the negative propaganda by New Delhi-based news channels, the trade in Kashmir, particularly the tourism sector and various other industries, have suffered badly. But we are taking corrective measures and some announcements will be made in the budget to address these issues,” Dr Drabu said.
Appreciating the role of the Finance Minister for announcing a slew of measures, including tax waivers for the business community, the trade leaders said the Goods and Services Tax regime has brought a positive change and reduced corruption while easing the system of filing returns.
However, they said, the Tax Department must organise more awareness programs and training camps so that small traders are acquainted with the system. Commissioner Commercial Tax, Parvaiz Khateeb assured them that the Department will be organising such programs in coming days.
The Finance Minister underlined that many interventions carried out by the state government in various areas and the announcements made for sectors such as Walnut industry in last budget, have not been followed up by the industry leaders, resulting in wastage of funds.
“The Government will leave no stone unturned in reviving important sectors like Horticulture, Handicrafts, Tourism, and industries which are the backbone of the state economy. This year, there will be major intervention in power sector which will address a lot of issues faced by various industries,” Dr Drabu said.
The office bearers of Press Club Srinagar demanded immediate handing over of the 9-HB Polo View building to the body so that the Press Club is made be functional at the earliest. They also demanded operationalization of the Journalists Welfare Scheme for which the Government has earmarked a corpus fund of Rs 2 crore.