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Revenue to support Rs 1.4 lakh crore J&K budget appears to come from sale of PSUs: Cong’s Jairam Ramesh

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New Delhi:  Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday claimed the expenditure figure of Rs 1.4 lakh crore in the Jammu and Kashmir budget is based on expected proceeds from the sale of public sector units and questioned the rationale behind the proposal.

During a debate on the 2022-23 budget for Jammu and Kashmir in Rajya Sabha, Ramesh said that a large number of memorandum of understandings (MoUs) have been signed for the union territory and sought clarity on the number of projects that have materialised and for which land acquisition has started.

“The expenditure figure which has been projected (is) very impressive, reaching Rs 1,40,000 crore. (It) is obviously based on revenue receipts crossing almost Rs 1 lakh crore. When I look at the paper and try to find out what is the source of the impressive increase in revenue receipts which accounts for the increase in the expenditure, it appears that a bulk of it is based on sale of state PSUs,” Ramesh said.

He said that most of the state public sector companies, in almost all states but particularly in J&K, are either sick or dependent on budgetary support.

“My first question to the honourable finance minister is: ‘Is this assumption that you are going to generate a lot of revenue by selling state PSUs all that viable, given the state of the PSUs in Jammu and Kashmir?'” the Congress MP said.

He said the revenue receipt budget is dependent on additional resource mobilisation and it is not clear what are the specific measures for raising additional resources.

“I can understand that the Centre will give more loans to the state but that is not additional resource mobilisation. You are not going to factor in loans from the Centre as additional resource mobilisation. What are these additional resource mobilisation? Are they additional taxes? Are they user charges? What are the additional resources on which the revenue receipt budget is based,” Ramesh said.

The Congress MP said the GST revenue is projected to double this year as per the budget which is very impressive but it is also unprecedented.

“I want to understand what gives the finance minister and the formulators of the revenue budget that the GST revenue is going to double in a year,” Ramesh said.

He said the JK Industrial Development Corporation was set up to promote industrialisation and is structured in a manner that it has become a land bank.

“It has got enormous power to either acquire land or to lease land or to get land, obviously to provide these lands to private investors. No state in India today has a liberalised land market that exists in J&K. Not Maharashtra, not Tamil Nadu, not the northeast states. The most liberal land market today in India exists in J&K,” Ramesh said.

He said that it has been done obviously in order to promote private investments, catalyse private investments.

“We know that in the last three years many MoUs have been signed. I would like to know from the Hon’ble finance minister, how many of these MoUs have actually been translated into the projects. How many of these MoUs have actually started acquiring the land that is now being provided through the aegis of JKIDC?” Ramesh.

He said that without understanding the assumptions, it will be difficult to understand the realism of the expenditure budget.

“I welcome the expenditure budget but I would like to have greater clarity on the pillars of the revenue budget,” Ramesh said.

Speaking in the Upper House during the discussion on the Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bill 2022, Ayodhya Rami Reddy Alla of the YSRCP congratulated the government for presenting an inclusive budget.

“The budget presented by the minister for the Union Territory focuses on economic development of the region and the people, encouraging industrial and tourism growth and also improving grassroots democracy,” he said.

V Sivadasan of the CPI(M) said unemployment is a serious problem for the youth of J&K. He said there is a need to protect the federal rights of the people of J&K and demanded that it be granted statehood.

Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party sought to know from the Narendra Modi

led-government how many Kashmiri Pandits have been rehabilitated in the Valley since it came to power more than seven years ago.

Other members, including Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), Binoy Viswam (CPI) and Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena, spoke about the lack of representation from J & K.

Participating in the debate before Ramesh, TDP member Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar demanded that elections be held at the earliest in the union territory.

BJP member Surendra Singh Nagar said that it is because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that tribals in J&K have now the same right as it is available for tribals across the country.

BJP member Neeraj Shekhar and AIADMK member M Thambidurai also participated in the debate.

Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harvivansh said that the discussion on the budget for J&K has been concluded and the finance minister will give reply to it on March 23.

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