Industry Leaders Say Kashmir’s Manufacturing Sector Is Sinking Fast

Srinagar- The industrial fraternity in Kashmir has decided to launch a united fight against anti industry policies and orders with all the force and might at its disposal to save the existing enterprises from imminent extinction. In this regard, they have asked FCIK to prepare a roadmap within shortest possible time to take up and discuss their issues at every available forum.

According to a statement, the decision was taken at a day long workshop on "Industrial distress and gloomy response from authorities" organised by Kashmir Small Scale Industries Association (KSSIA) at Industrial Estate Baghi Ali Mardan Khan which besides President FCIK Shahid Kamili was participated by representatives of industry from across the valley.

While deliberating upon the unprecedented conditions created and being created on a daily basis for the existing industrial enterprises for the past over two years, the participants blamed the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir for putting the existing industrial sector on terminal sedation instead of looking for required cure and treatment for its disease.

The speakers conveyed their regret that there existed a lot of confusion in current industrial policy which has caused anxiety amoung entrepreneurs whether it was in continuation or supersession of the previous policy. Instead of removing these confusions, the authorities came out with fresh confusions by issuing newer orders, they said, adding that one such order was regarding a change of Constitution that was full of complexities.

The speakers expressed concern over the falling industrial output and production owing to lower demand, change in procurement policy and liquidity crunch. They informed that over 50% of the industrial units were established in J&K to cater to the demands of the government and all of these  have been rendered workless after the government has engaged in procuring its requirements from outside enterprises through the GeM portal. "This is contrary to the provisions of price and purchase preference made in the industrial policy besides many more exemptions afforded as cost equalisers in lieu of operating under difficult conditions", explained the speakers. With abolishing of toll tax and entry tax, the outside manufacturers have been facilitated to move their products freely into Kashmir making it difficult for the local manufacturers to compete with them. The liquidity crunch has also impacted the industrial production as hundreds of crores of payments due to the entrepreneurs against supplies made and work done years back have been withheld by the government departments.

While cautioning against the growing labour retrenchments, the Presidents of various estates informed that in the past two years 40% of the employees on an average in the organised sector have been cut back by the employers. They feared a greater number of such retrenchments in the unorganised sector where the data is being collected.

The workshop also discussed the lackadaisical approach for revival and rehabilitation of sick units whose number is growing with  each passing day. The experts suggested that by the end of the current fiscal, the NPAs in banks in J&K may increase several times than at present. They expressed concern that the banks in J&K have adopted a different and discriminatory yardstick to restructure and settle the accounts under OTS. It was informed that the average haircut being offered to the NPAs pertaining to J&K units is mere 10% as against 42% settled on the accounts of outsiders by the same banks. They also complained of charging higher rate of interest from the local enterprises than outsiders.

Speaking on the occasion, the President FCIK Shahid Kamili admitted that industry in Kashmir was passing through a difficult situation and authorities show little interest in mitigating their genuine problems. "Although it is known to everyone that FCIK is the only representative apex organisation of industrial units and associations in Kashmir, yet efforts are being created to sideline it from decision making committees and boards under "divide and rule policy". He sought cooperation from all Presidents of various estates, districts and lines of activities in the fight for the rights of existing units. President also gave an overview of the working of FCIK during past one year.

Earlier, President KSSIA Syed Fazal Illahi welcomed President and office bearers of FCIK besides other participants who had made it to the event. He flagged the issues confronted by industrial enterprises and criticised the orders being issued that make the jobs of enterprises more complex than easy.
The workshop ended with a vote if thanks presented by Ghulam Mohi ud Din General Secretary KSSIA. The proceedings of the programme was conducted by Ghulam Mohammad.

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