LG Announces Rs 1350 Cr Package To Help Business Sector

J&K LG Manoj Sinha addresses a press conference in Srinagar

50 % Waiver Of Fixed Charges In Electricity, Water Tariff

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha announced a Rs 1,350-crore economic package for Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to give what the official spokesman called “a much-needed boost” to tourism and other sectors hit by the economic slowdown caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the security scenario.

As a part of the package, the government has also decided to provide 50 per cent waiver of fixed charges for one year with respect to electricity and water which would cost Rs 105 crore.

Sinha also hinted that the Centre is actively considering an “unprecedented and historic package” for assistance to business entities, which will cover both existing and new enterprises and will be a big boost to business and industry in Jammu and Kashmir, according to an official press release.

Announcing this, the LG said, “You know that at the most, a two-per cent interest subvention is provided and that is what the people expect as well. However, keeping in mind the special situation here — businesses have been suffering for the last about 20 years — we have decided to give an interest subvention of five per cent without any discrimination to all businesses whether small, medium or heavy. This is an unprecedented decision.”

He said the Union Territory (UT) administration will directly support this with Rs 950 crore.

Sinha also announced that stamp duty has been exempted in case of all borrowers up to March next year.

He said the new economic package is apart from the package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.

“Overall, this economic package is historic in terms of volume and reach. I can see that Kashmiris are eager to contribute to the growth of the UT as they are fed up with the cross-border militancy sponsored by our neighbour.

“I strongly feel that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that a lot of money goes into creation of jobs, strengthening of businesses and coming together of families for a quick bounce-back of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy. I have twin objectives — ensure more money in people’s pockets and offer more opportunity for the revival of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy,” Sinha said while making his agenda open to the people of the UT.

“Green shoots of economic revival are visible and I am confident that with this package, we will be able to steer Jammu and Kashmir through the current crisis,” he said.

The LG said under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, Rs 1,400 crore has already been provided to people through the Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

He added that the government is working on a structured mechanism and package for taxi drivers, transporters, autorickshaw drivers, houseboat owners, shikarawallas and other affected people.

“We are setting up a customised help tourism scheme by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for financial assistance to persons associated with the tourism sector with attractive pricing and repayment features. We are setting up an exclusive land bank and will make available land for warehouses in industrial estates and food parks,” Sinha said.

He also announced that those associated with the handloom and handicraft sectors will get enhanced credit of Rs 2 lakh in their credit cards as also a seven per cent interest subvention to improve these sectors, which are known globally.

The Jammu and Kashmir Bank will start a special desk from October 1 for youth and women entrepreneurs, he said.

As far as tax concessions are concerned, the government has extended till December 31 the filing of the GST reimbursement claims. Handholding to remove difficulties in filing returns and mechanism to avoid delays in reimbursement claims shall be instituted and the accumulated interest shall be converted into funded interest term loan.

An official spokesman later said 50 per cent or Rs 5 lakh subsidy, whichever is lower, will be provided to transporters for replacement of old buses and insurance premium will be borne by the government subject to maximum of Rs 5,000 per vehicle for buses and mini-buses, Rs 3,000 for taxis and Rs 2,000 for three wheelers.

For the tourism sector, subsidy on installation of bio-digesters in houseboats has been announced. This assistance will be extended out of the ‘JK Relief Fund’ to some 19,914 shikara or house boat owners, tourist guides, pithuwalas, dandiwalas, sledge walas, pony or camel riders, he said.

Cash assistance of Rs 1,000 to them given from last three months will be extended for further six months, the spokesman said.

He said over 3,100 artists have lost their livelihood due to the COVID pandemic. Those associated with the cultural academy will be paid Rs 1,000 a month from the relief fund for nine months with effect from April 1

In addition to the financial package and administration measures, the government has constituted committees to look into issues of traders and resolve them, he said.

These include a committee that will propose issuance of a simplified negative list for industrial incentives within three months, the spokesman said.

He said a committee will be also constituted to settle bank, finance and industry issues.

To solve issues there will be committees in districts and provinces, and they will have members of business associations, banks, among others. Those at the district level will meet every month and those in provinces, every two months, he said.

The spokesman said the LG had also constituted a committee on August 18 to assess the help required by the business community and suggest measures to boost banking, industry, tourism, agriculture and handicraft.

The committee, which is headed by advisor to the LG, K K Sharma, submitted its report on September 1 after deliberations with at least 35 business organisations.

The LG has accepted the drafted recommendations which will eventually empower Kashmiris, besides providing a conducive environment for various industries to complement the prime minister’s visions of “Vocal for Local”, “Make in India” and “Make for World”, he said.

Since taking over as the LG last month, Sinha has cleared a slew of game-changer schemes.

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