Apex trader bodies in the state have demanded that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) should return the power projects to the state which they are holding “illegal”. “The agreement of many power projects has already expired….Then how can NHPC hold them illegally? The returning of power projects will help the state to grow and make its economically dependent,” Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rakesh Gupta told reporters here. JCCI and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) for the first time addressed a joint press conference and alleged that the Sales Tax authorities were unnecessarily pestering the traders of the state despite paying tax on time. Gupta said they were also ready to join the hands with a Kashmiri civil society group which has been spearheading the campaign for return of power projects to the state. “If the civil society is willing then we can join hands with them to build pressure on the government to return power projects to J&K,” he said. The traders threatening that state that they would to stop paying tax as the Sales tax department was “harassing” genuine tax payers in the state. The businessmen also warned to resort to financial indiscipline if authorities fail to stop harassing them. Gupta said that despite paying the tax authorities concerned were harassing genuine businessmen. “If the Sales Tax authorities do not stop harassing the honest tax payers, we will stop paying taxes to the government. We will also create financial indiscipline in the state,” Gupta threatened. “Let them do the bungling in their offices but stop harassing the traders. You (Sales Tax authorities) can’t scare us but you should focus on your work and stop corruption within their own department,” he said. Gupta warned the authorities to either stop harassing traders or “be ready to face serious consequences”. He said they are going to meet Finance Minister HaseebDrabu very soon where they would raise these issues. “We will also request Chief Minister and Haseeb Drabu to announce amnesty pertaining to pre vat period,” he said. He demanded that central government should take steps to declare the J&K as a free economic zone. “It will help us to do trade with Uzbakistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, China, Russia and other countries.” Replying to a question whether it could have political ramifications, he said, “We know what could be its ramifications. But a committee should be step up to work out its modifications which will be good for the economy.” President KCCI Mushtaq Ahmad Wani said the trade items of cross LoC trade should be increased to 50 from 21. He said the government should implement its order of treating tourism including hotels as industry and provide all the incentives available to industries in the state.
2015 Kashmir Despatch