Rather begins pre-budget discussions

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 Says flight of capital won’t be allowed

JAMMU:- Initiating the exercise of pre-budget discussions here on Saturday to make next year’s budget a people friendly vision document, the Minister for Finance & Ladakh Affairs Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather has assured the trade and industry that its concerns about flight of capital due to diversion of trade from the State would be addressed appropriately as it was not only in favour of business community but also in the interest of State revenues.      

Rather, who interacted with the members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), Chamber of Indian Industry (CII),  and Traders & Retailers Federation during a marathon 5 hours long Pre-Budget discussions today, said that despite limited resources, the Government has tried its best to extend maximum possible relief, in the shape of tax concessions, to various sectors of economy adding that almost entire agriculture sector has been made tax free to give a big boost to the agriculture production and productively in the State. He said the Government will consider more relief to boost trade and industry, if any time, it was felt that there is still some scope left for further concessions. 

The Economic Advisor to the Government Mr. Jalil Ahmed Khan, Financial Commissioner Finance, Mr. Iqbal Khandey, Commissioner Commercial Taxes, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, Additional Commissioner Commercial Taxes (Adm.) Jammu Mr. P.I. Khateeb, Special Secretary Finance Mr. Zubair Ahmed and Deputy Commissioner, Commercial Taxes (HQ) Mr. Showkat Aijaz were also present in the meeting. 

Rather asked the members of Trade and Industry to take full benefit of the Permanent Grievance Redressal Committee (PGRC), which is a  high Powered Committee headed by Financial Commissioner, Finance to exclusively address the day to day problems and grievances of the business community through regular interactions. “PRGC is an appropriate forum constituted by the Government for the convenience of different sectors of trade and economy to provide them around the year opportunity for redressing their grievances in a time bound manner,  in addition to the platform of pre-budget discussions”. Mr. Rather informed and asked the business community to take up their demand about tax reforms in the Committee for threadbare discussion. The Minister informed that full computerization of the Commercial Taxes Department will be started from April 2013 which will go a long way in providing online dealing facilities to the traders and dealers of the State. He said commissioning of Rs. 43 Crore New Toll Plaza Lakhanpur will also remove hardships of the business community in a big way. Mr. Rather said that up-gradation of the Jammu airport for international flights on the pattern of Srinagar airport will be started immediately to give boost to the tourism and trade activities in the Jammu province. 

While assuring that all the genuine views and reasonable suggestions expressed during the discussions would be incorporated in the next year’s budget proposals, Mr. Rather said that the basic objective of the pre-budget discussion was to involve the people and other stake holders in the process of budget formulation. He said Government was committed for the cordial relations with business community, which is an important and respectable segment of the society adding that tax enforcing authorities have been, in clear terms, asked not to harass them on petty issues unnecessarily. “They have been directed to behave politely and maintain better and cordial relation with the dealers and traders during dealings with them”, Mr. Rather asserted. He also called for minimizing seizure of goods at Toll posts adding that confiscations should be the last resort only in exceptional circumstances. He also sounded the business community about the major tax reform of the present times –  the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime –  being extended all over the country adding that business interests of all the stakeholders as well as the overall revenue interest of the State will be kept in consideration while its implementation in J&K. He said GST will be a comprehensive reform in the existing tax laws and tax management system. 

The members of the Trade and Industry while thanking the Minister for giving them an opportunity to present their views before finalizing next year’s budget proposals presented their memorandum of demands. Main issues raised in discussions included removal of discrepancy under VAT between J&K and other neighbouring States, Tax/VAT concessions on paddy, rice, wheat, pulses, Flour Atta Maida, CFL Tubes (Energy savers), dry whole milk, dry fruits, puja articles and Samgari.

The delegations also demanded to formulate a trade policy, creation of new warehouses/wholesale markets and institutional areas in Jammu, creation of new industrial estates, abolition of negative list, VAT remission to Industry, land ownership rights to industrial units, power amnesty scheme for revival of sick units, separate tourism/pilgrimage projects for Jammu province, new industrial policy for tourism and measure for making Jammu as an independent tourist destination. 

The 30 member delegation of CCI was led by its President Mr. Y.V. Sharma and Sh. Ravi Mahajan whereas 13 member delegation of CII was represented by Sh. Vicky Mahajan and Sanjay Puri. 

 

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