SRINAGAR Even as summer has heralded on Kashmir, kick-starting wedding and tourist season, Kashmirs business community says revival of local business has failed to take place. Business community says uncertainty in prevailing situation ever since Pulwama attack of February 14 that caused a low business sentiment is also a reason that revival of trade is not taking place.
While post 2014 flood Kashmir economy is in doldrums, the situation further deteriorated when the valley faced more than six months shutdown and restrictions in 2016 unrest. Since then the businesses have failed to keep pace with their counterparts across the country, traders say.
The other factor which further added to the slump was extension of Goods and Services Tax regime to the state, they claim. The decision, they said, not only diluted states special power to tax goods and services but impacted the businesses as well.
Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation said the business community was expecting sales to pick up after winters but instead shopper footfalls to showrooms has been quite low as marriage and “tourist season doesn’t seem to be so promising,” Khan says.
The marriage season has already started but overall trade activity is quite subdued. The uncertainty has taken a toll on trade, said Khan who also head Kashmir Economic Alliance. According to President of Parimpora Fruit Mandi, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, fruit and vegetable dealers who have already suffered huge losses due to frequent highway closure during this years winter are now being pushed into a deeper loss-making situation.
Trucks are being made to wait for days together on the national highway which is hampering supplies to the Valley and apple export from here as well. Traders in the mandi are so distressed that they are even threatening to shut down the mandi if this traffic mess is not sorted out, Basheer said. ” Our apple export from cold stores is reaching mandis in a deteriorated condition as it has to wait on highway for days,” he said.
The mutton industry which holds a major significance at this time of the year when wedding season has started is also at the receiving end. As per mutton dealers, the authorities on the highway not allowing the trucks to proceed towards Srinagar for days together causes huge losses to mutton dealers.
There are 500 weddings planned for next month or so but often truckloads of mutton get delayed in reaching Kashmir market, General secretary of All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association, Mehraj-ud-din Ganai said. .
Chief Spokesman of KTMF, Farhan Kitab who also owns a show showroom in the city center of Srinagar says footfalls of shoppers to the markets in Lal Chowk and surrounding areas after Eid eve has been low. He says summer stocks have not reached the markets in time due to frequent closure of national highway in March and April.
People continue to hold back their purchasing decision even though they continue to buy essentials. We had all our hopes on the wedding season but the business activity doesnt seem to pick up, said Kitab. (KNO)