Mending the tattered economy

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While addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Partnership Summit-2020 on Thursday, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha asserted that the Jammu and Kashmir possesses great growth potential having talented young English-speaking population, coupled with established supply chains, ease of doing business, single-window clearances, competitive regulatory and policy landscapes assured part insurance covers, and rich natural resources and called upon the CII and its members to partner with J&K and be the change that one truly wishes to see reflected on the ground, besides shaping up a magnificent future and to invest in a truly greenfield project. He assured them that J&K is open for business and set for growth which is sustainable and builds businesses with purpose. He also reiterated that the Union Territory administration is planning to host the J&K Global investor’s Summit soon to attract investments so that the economy gets the requisite boost.

Lt Governor’s remarks and observations are encouraging and one genuinely hopes that what is being said will be transformed into action in near future. Jammu and Kashmir’s economy has got a terrible hit particularly from past more than a year. In August 2019, following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A and bifurcation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the life, particularly, in Kashmir came to a standstill. Everything remained shut for months together. It was the peak tourist season and given the disturbance on the ground, Kashmir witnessed zero tourist foot fall. The industry got hit badly crippling the hospitality sector completely. Same happened to the other spheres of businesses. Early snowfall in November 2019 gave a big blow to horticulture sector as thousands of apple laden trees broke down or got uprooted. Since then the apple growers have been struggling to put their business back on rails. While people had pinned their hopes with 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic dashed all those hopes leaving all – from street vendors to big business houses to suffer and suffer badly.

In this backdrop, if the UT administration is serious and sincere about taking care of the health of economy here it needs to be more proactive and do things on a war-footing basis. We have been hearing lofty slogans about big business houses coming forward to invest in Jammu and Kashmir but nothing on the ground has changed yet. The UT administration, ahead of dreaming of investments, need to make Jammu and Kashmir investment friendly. It goes without saying that peace is the prerequisite for convincing investors to invest in some place. The government needs to ensure that peace is established and for that it need to open up communication channels with all major political parties of the UT. Secondly, the acute electric power shortage would be another stumbling block for investors. Those who want to do business here would need 24/7 power supply which still seems a distant dream. At present, Kashmir Valley, particularly the rural areas are facing acute electric power crisis. In certain areas, people get power supply only for 10 hours in 24 hours that too not at a stretch but with long intervals. To make Jammu and Kashmir investment friendly, the UT administration need to take several steps and unless that is done, no serious and well meaning business house would willing to invest here.

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