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No major economic activity in J&K post abrogation of Article 370: JCCI

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Warns agitation if govt imposes property tax

Jammu: No major economic activity has taken place in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) said on Friday, demanding immediate lifting of curbs on the movement of people to and from the union territory.

The traders’ body also opposed the proposed property tax and said it would not hesitate to launch an agitation if it is imposed.

“The business community suffered economic losses due to strict restrictions in the wake of August 05, 2019 events followed by a prolonged coronavirus-induced lockdown. No major economic activity has taken place (in Jammu and Kashmir) after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A,” JCCI president Arun Gupta told reporters here.

Voicing concern over the continued restrictions on the movement of people at Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir, Gupta said 40 percent of the businesses, including hotel and transport industries, depend on pilgrims and tourists but due to the continued restrictions, people are reluctant to visit the UT.

“The COVID-19 restrictions were eased across India in January this year but the J&K government has kept Lakhanpur in the red zone category and not allowing inter-state bus services, besides subjecting people coming from outside to Covid testing,” he said.

Gupta said the people are suffering immensely due to the “harsh restrictions” and are affecting the business in the UT, which has already suffered a lot due to the prolonged lockdown.

“The governments outside J&K are coming to the rescue of their residents by reducing existing taxes but on the contrary the J&K government is planning to impose property tax to further weaken the people economically. This time when people are struggling to make both ends meet and pay tuition fees of their children, the imposition of property tax is grave injustice and illogical,” he said.

He said the chamber is not willing to take an agitation path due to the economic crisis people are facing, but “we will not hesitate to launch indefinite strike if government imposes property tax. We will not allow it to happen.”

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration last week issued a notification imposing property tax through urban local bodies in their respective areas across the UT.

“We flay the decision of imposition of property tax by government of J&K. We demand the reconsideration of the decision,” JCCI president said.

He said that employment and business of people of this erstwhile state are badly affected by post August 05, 2019 events especially due to prolonged shut downs and restrictions imposed by the government.

Gupta said that J&K is flooded with unemployed youths and have limited resources and opportunities for economic activities, and now it has been burdened with one more tax to plunge into the deep economic crisis.

He said that after the spread of pandemic Covid-19, the businesses are shut and people are left jobless, many states are considering to come to the rescue of people by exempting and reducing the existing taxes already in force.

“But on the contrary the Government of J&K is imposing tax after tax to further weaken the people economically. The time when people are struggling to meet their needs, imposition of property tax is grave injustice and illogical,” he said.

The JCCI president reiterated that the time is not opportune to impose such taxes in a region which is economically, geographically and politically sensitive. The people are looking forward for a relief and tax holiday for business and trade at this time of distress but initiation of such decisions will further aggravate the already worsened economy of J&K, he added. (With PTI inputs)

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