SRINAGAR: Ahead of presenting 2017-18 Budget, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb A Drabu Saturday held a series of meetings with traders, agriculturists, horticulturists, entrepreneurs and representatives of business bodies.
The Finance Minister said the Government is committed to speed up the developmental activity in the State and preponing the budget to January is an important step in this regard.
Commissioner Secretary Finance Navin K Choudhary, Commissioner Commercial Taxes Parvaiz Iqbal Khateeb and other officers of the department attended the meetings.
Regarding the implementation of GST, the Finance Minister said that the new tax regime will be implemented only after approved by the State legislature.
On the occasion, the traders presented their viewpoint and gave suggestions for boosting industrial and agriculture sector in the State. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) sought training and holding of special workshop for traders so that all stakeholders will come to know about the new tax regime. While thanking the State Government for restructuring of loans, they also said that it should be explored whether interest component for the unrest period can be waived off.
The representative of Kashmir Economic Alliance advocated for resolving service tax issue with private telecom operators in the state that will increase the income of the state substantially. They also called for establishing of Sewage Treatment Plants for hotels in Srinagar city.
Chairman of Private Schools Association called for developing Kashmir as a knowledge hub by initiating steps like giving single window clearance for permission to open new educational institutes, lowering of Taxes on coaching institutes and implementing new educational policy wherein owners of private educational institutes are also made stakeholders.
Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation called for resolving the issue of rate fixation of essential commodities. Representatives of various fruit growers associations said that the Government should expedite setting of cold storage for fruit harvest at block level. They also demanded that the Government should implement the High Density fruit plantation scheme at a much larger level so that it will bring revolution in the State economy.
While listening to problems faced by the transporters, the Finance Minister said that the Government is thinking of incorporating various steps in the next budget that will help the sector to grow and cope up with the losses suffered because of the recent unrest.
The Hoteliers Association raised the issue of imposition of tax on catering. The Finance Minister asked the Hoteliers to work with J&K Bank so that a new scheme can be launched wherein Bank will finance central heating of all hotels in Kashmir. The Hoteliers also demanded waiving off of electricity tariff for hotels during the period of closure in Kashmir.
The contractors association demanded that the liability be cleared from treasuries at the earliest. Dr. Drabu asked the contractors not to undertake any work unless it is approved and money earmarked for it.
Regarding condition of various industrial estates, the Finance Minister asked the trade bodies to form a governing body by electing entrepreneurs from that particular estate. He said that the Government will devolve financial powers to the body to take work for developing and maintaining the respective estate. He said that such an industrial estate will be given 24 hour power supply too. He said that the new model, if successful, will be replicated for all industrial estates.
KEG Holds Meet With FM
The Finance Minister held talks with newly formed Kashmir Editors Guild. The Guild stressed upon Finance Minister to clear liabilities, increase in advertisement rates besides importance of modern press club in Srinagar. Dr. Drabu said that the Government will be happy to give powers to such a representative body to spend Rs 2 crore Journalist Welfare Fund which will be audited by the Government once a year. The Guild will also have powers to implement health and medical insurance for journalist fraternity in Kashmir, besides other welfare measures as well.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.