Economic intervention with political undercurrents!

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A day after dissolving the Assembly on November 22, the Governor administration had declared J&K Bank as a Public Sector Undertaking and this decision was received with a strong criticism from every walk of life. There was widespread opposition to the decision with political parties and also the bank employees, terming it as a move to curb J&K’s financial autonomy. Nobody seemsis keen to ascertain the facts, why our PSU’s had snap down their operations and are not now in that position, like before to provide special bonanzas for employees and dividend cheques to the Government. And the same concern is evident regarding J&K Bank which, many believe, may be slowly becoming another non-profitable unit.

All PSU’s are now becoming a burden on the state’s exchequer, because these PSU’s have been provided a budgetary support every year despite of the fact they have incurred heavy losses till date, and have got rid of their employees by the virtue of different schemes like Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) or Golden Handshake etc. And many of them have sold their assets to clear their liabilities. In some units the cases have been lodged in the Hon’ble High court to clear the dues of employees.

During Maharaja’s rule, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank was established with this objective to develop the economic stability of the state. Ever since the bank has remained an autonomous body, as a result of which it has the distinction of being profitable institution of the state.  Despite that it has become state’s first institution which generated high employment. The J&K Bank is the only the financial institution of the state, which is listed in the National Stock Exchange (NSE), with a lending of more than 25,000 crores, as per local and National print media reports.

On the contrary, the Government being shareholder of the J&K Bank has recovered its capital investment in the form of dividend cheques paid by the bank, as the state government holds 59.3% of the bank’s stake. However, the remaining shares are being owned by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. It has sustained these families by providing them steady income in the form of dividends for the shares owned by them.

While converting such a leading financial institute as a PSU, there is perceptional threat of economic stagnation that will disrupt the financial balance, which will create more chaos and confusion among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems that the political intervention in state’s financial institutions is a direct and blatant assault on state’s economy.

The state Government must rollback its order, and must leave no stone unturned when it comes to saving our financial institutions.

(Shah Khalid is a freelance Columnist & a member of J&K RTI Foundation)

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