Quoting Bashir Badar, LG announces 1, 350 Cr package to boost businesses in J&K
50% electricity, water tariffs waived across J&K
Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today did a jungalbandi of poetry and economy quoting renowned Urdu poet Bashir Badar’s verses: Hum bhi darya hain, hamain apna hunar maaloom hai; Jis taraf bhi chal pade, raasta ho jaye ga; while announcing a 1,350 Crore economic package to boost businesses in Jammu and Kashmir UT.
Addressing a press conference here today, LG Manoj Sinha announced the economic package for the Union Territory to give 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 waived 50 percent of the electricity and water bill amounts for a year across Jammu and Kashmir with an aim to bring a huge relief to farmers, families and businesses.
Sinha also hinted that the Centre is actively considering an “unprecedented and historic package” for assistance to business entities, which will cover both the existing and new enterprises and will be a big boost to business and industry in Jammu and Kashmir.
Announcing this, the LG said, “You know that at the most, a two percent 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 percent without any discrimination to all businesses whether small, medium or heavy. This is an unprecedented decision.”
He said the Union Territory 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 Union Territory as they are fed up with the cross-border terrorism 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 Union Territory.
“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 also informed that under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, Rs 1,400 crore have already been provided to people through the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and other banks.
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 an enhanced credit of Rs 2 lakh in their credit cards as also a seven percent interest subvention to improve these sectors, which are famous the world-over.
The Jammu and Kashmir Bank will start a special desk from October 01 for youth and women entrepreneurs, he said.
The LG had constituted a committee on August 18 to assess the help required by the business community of Jammu and Kashmir and also suggest administrative measures to boost banking, industry, tourism, agriculture and handicrafts.
The committee headed by K K Sharma, the advisor to the LG, submitted its report on September 01 after deliberations with at least 35 business organisations from Srinagar and Jammu.
The drafted recommendations, which have been accepted by the LG, will eventually “empower Kashmiris”, especially those who have lost their businesses and livelihoods, besides providing a conducive environment for various other industries to complement the prime minister’s visions of “Vocal for Local”, “Make in India” and “Make for World”.
As per the package, 50 percent or Rs 5.00 lakh subsidy, whichever is lower, shall be provided to the transporters for replacement of old buses and the insurance premium shall be borne by the government subject to maximum of Rs 5000 per vehicle for buses/mini-buses, Rs 3000 for taxes/cabs and Rs 2000 for three-wheelers.
For Tourism sector, subsidy for installation of bio-digesters in the houseboats has been announced. Assistance shall also be extended out of ‘J&K Relief Fund’ to some 19914 Shikara/houseboat owners/tourist guides/pithuwalas/dandiwalas/sledge walas/pony/camel riders and cash assistance of Rs 1000 to all of them given from last three months shall be extended for further six months ending 31st December, 2020.
There are more than 3100 artists who have lost their livelihood during the pandemic. The artists associated with the Cultural Academy shall be paid Rs 1000 per month out of ‘J&K Relief Fund’ for a period of nine months w.e.f 1st April, 2020, an official press release giving details of the package informed.
It said the comprehensive ‘Business Revival Package’ also includes newly rolled out special COVID schemes like Guaranteed Emergency Credit Loan (GECL), Working Capital Demand Loan (WCDL) facility for Private Educational Institutions. J&K Business Support Loan Scheme for hotels and guest-houses shall be rolled out on similar lines. Considering the loss suffered by the business community, there shall be extension of additional funding to all eligible borrowers for revival of their stalled business under GECL.
For Agriculture sector, district-level bankers committee shall be constituted to ensure loan coverage for agriculture and allied non-farm activities under Mudra loans. Meetings will be organised every month to overcome difficulties faced by the borrowers.
Moreover J&K Bank shall frame customised “Help Tourism” scheme for financial assistance to persons associated with the Tourism Sector with attractive pricing and repayment features. All stake-holders shall be taken on board for any modifications, the press release said.
It said as far as tax concessions are concerned, the filing of the GST reimbursement claims has also been extended till 31st December, 2020. Handholding to remove difficulties in filing returns and mechanism to avoid delays in reimbursement claims shall be instituted. The accumulated interest shall be converted into funded interest term loan.
Administrative measures for different economic sectors are part of the package announced today to improve business environment. These are:
- Online renewal and registration system for transporters/hoteliers shall be put in place.
- Banks will extend every possible support to houseboat owners, tour and travel operators and shikarawalas and frame a customized scheme for their working capital requirements in consultation with the concerned associations.
- All renewals of registration of hotels, restaurants and the like shall be done in a time-bound manner.
- Housing and Urban Development
- STPs of Srinagar will be completed in time-bound manner providing relief to hotels.
- Building permissions will be given in a time-bound manner within three months.
- Agriculture/Horticulture and allied sectors
- Farmer Producer Organisations will be increased with market linkages.
- Suitable space for passenger taxi and auto-stands will be provided to avoid traffic congestion.
- Handloom and Handicraft:
- Handicraft cluster centres will be set up in specified zones.
- Handloom parks will be created in J&K and possibilities for development of handloom parks outside J&K will be explored.
- Registration of instruments will be done by Revenue Department on daily basis, and not more than seven days.
- Focus Groups
- Special desk shall be created to address youth and women entrepreneurs in the J&K Bank. The facility shall be put in place by the J&K Bank by 1st of October, 2020.
- Exclusive market space will be created for women entrepreneurs.
- Creation of portal for unemployed youth – a one stop solution with tie-up with employment portals and employers on same platform will be done.
- Renewal of registration of schools will be done in a time-bound manner and affiliation process with the CBSE shall be eased out to have more CBSE school registrations.
- Frequent national and international events shall be organised by the Youth Service and Sports Department to have wider participation. High-end events will encourage tourism sector and improve economy of the UT.
The government has also constituted few committees to look deep into the issues of traders’ community and resolve them as per the current needs and their demands. These include:
- A committee headed by Administrative Secretary I&C Department with representative of Finance Department will propose issuance of a simplified negative list for industrial incentives within three months.
- A committee shall be constituted for settlement of bank, finance and industry issues with association representatives as members to be chaired by Finance department.
- Constitution of committees in each province/district involving members of the business associations to address their issues which shall meet every month at district level and every two months at provincial level to settle issues of business community. The committees shall have representatives from I&C/finance/banks as its members.