Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu Sunday said the Government would ensure a people-friendly and welfare budget 2016-17 for Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking during a series of pre-budget consultations with the representations of various business & trade associations and other stakeholders here, the Minister said he would try to accommodate as many viable suggestions as possible in budget 2016-17. He said pre-budget interactions are vital to receiving inputs, suggestions and to know the expectations of the stakeholders from the budget. Commissioner Secretary, Finance, Navin Kumar Choudhary, Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, Baseer Ahmed Khan, Excise Commissioner, Tsering Angchok, Additional Commissioners Commercial Taxes, Jammu/Kashmir and other senior officers were present in the meetings. The Finance Minister said if certain inputs from the stakeholders could not be incorporated due to some reason, they will be informed about the reasons in the post-budget consultations. “The idea is to reassure them that although their suggestions are valuable to the government, but some of these couldn’t be incorporated in the budget due to various unavoidable reasons,” he said. During the meeting, various suggestions were received from representatives of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Jammu, Transporters Association Jammu, Hotelier Association Jammu, Federation of Industries Jammu, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Institute of Public Opinion, Intellectuals, Academicians, Tax Bar Association, Traders Association, Agriculturalists, Fruit Growers Association Jammu, Office Bearers of Press Club Jammu, J&K Employees Joint Action Committee, J&K Secretariat Non-Gazetted Employees Association and Tourism Federation of Jammu. The representatives of Chamber of Commerce & Industry led by their President Rakesh Gupta suggested for amnesty on account of faults due to wrong classification of various commodities for traders in case of VAT rates. They also asked for exemption of Service Tax on gym services and games zone. President CCI said high rate of taxation on products sold through CSD especially in case of automobiles leads to loss of revenue to the state as well as badly hits sales of local dealers as the tax in neighboring states is much less and encourages people to buy products from outside the state. The CCI demanded that the rate of such tax be brought down. The CCI demanded that to make the Rice Sheller industry viable, export of rice husk should be exempted from toll tax. They asked for power amnesty scheme for industrial units which are not functional and whose power connections have been disconnected. They also requested for amnesty scheme at par with domestic power amnesty scheme issued earlier by the government for industrial units having dispute with regard to power bills. The Minister while responding to their demands said that efforts shall be made to simplify the entire structure with clearer system and a generic classification. He also asked the industrialists to be cautious and prepared for GST regime at their ends. The Transporters Association also presented various demands before the Minster and demanded that the transport sector be declared as an industry. They also raised the issue of withdrawal of service tax on insurance and Sale Tax at Lakhanpur on fabrication of vehicular bodies. The association also demanded amnesty scheme with regard to passenger tax. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that the government is committed for promotion and sustenance of transport sector. Jammu Hotel Restaurant and Bar Association while presenting their demands said the hotels and restaurants under tourism have been declared as an industry and should be allowed to avail various benefits under it including electricity tariff. They also asked for soft loans for revival of hotels. They also asked for draught beer through dispenser may be allowed to be introduced in Bars making it more viable and attractive for business. They also asked for reduction in license fee of bars in hotels and restaurants. The Federation of Industries demanded for imposition of toll tax on import of Wheat Bran from outside the state in order to save local Small Scale Industrial Units engaged in manufacture of wheat bran from incurring huge loss. They also asked for removal of items from the negative list for industrial sector in respect of edible oil, roasted ground nuts and GP sheets. The representatives of CII advocated for policy reform for industrial development in the state to create an enabling environment for sustainable growth and development. They suggested formulation of a vision document sharing vision of where we would want to see the state after 15 years across developmental and social indicators. They also asked for single window system to facilitate various permissions, effective tracking and monitoring of applications. To promote ease of doing business in the state, CII proposed to hold workshops for officials of state government across various line departments to apprise them about best practices carried out by other state governments. They also suggested reserving a part of land for MSMEs in all new/expansion schemes for industrial estates and flatted factories to be given to budding entrepreneurs on nominal rent to encourage first generation entrepreneurs. The Press Club Association demanded for upgradation of Press Club in Jammu. They also asked for creation of welfare fund for working journalists besides providing them medical and accidental insurance. President Jammu and Kashmir Employees Joint Action Committee, Abdul Qayoom Wani presented various demands before the Minister including provision for regularization of all temporary employees of PSUs and Centrally sponsored schemes, financial support to sick public sector enterprises, provision of special medical insurance scheme for all state government employees, PSUs and casual employees. Meanwhile, representatives of J&K Secretariat Non-Gazetted Employees Association led by President, Ghulam Rasool Mir raised the issue of removal of pay anomalies, enhancement of move TA, TMA, MA, refreshment charges and HRA. They also asked for induction of qualifying service of state government employees to avail full pensionary benefits.
2015 Kashmir Despatch