JK’s Economic Potential Impaired By Conflict, Corruption: Report

JK’s Economic Potential Impaired By Conflict, Corruption: Report

16 September 2011
Greater Kashmir
Faheem Aslam

Srinagar: A United States based development agency has picked holes in functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, asserting that “while the conflict in Kashmir had its impact on economic development of the region, the potential revenue generating sectors in the Valley are not being fully exploited and fairly administered.” The report, prepared by Mercy Crops-a US-based Non Governmental Organization-reveals that the “state’s physical infrastructure is crumbling and development has become significantly dependent on central government’s grant-in-aid and its potential revenue generating sectors and industries are not being fully exploited and fairly administered.” In a background paper on economy in Kashmir, prepared during the One Young Kashmir Summit organized by Mercy Crops earlier this year, the organization says “there is a huge potential for growth and development in terms of availability of natural resources and the entrepreneurial spirit, which may act as engine for development.” But, it says, the “economic policies, corruption and the conflict are key challenges.” “Kashmir is mainly an agrarian-based economy. Agriculture and its allied sectors contribute 27 percent to the State’s Gross Domestic Product (SGDP), with 70 percent population directly or indirectly relying on agriculture for their livelihoods,” the report, copy of which is with Greater Kashmir, reads. It adds: “Out of the total area under apple orchards in the state, 90 percent is concentrated n the Valley due to suitable climate. With annual turnover of 75 million US dollars, this sector is the next biggest source of income in the state’s economy next to agriculture.” The report says that J&K holds number one position in saffron production-about 56.60 quintals in 2008-09. “J&K is a larger producer of Apple, Walnut, Almond and many other temperate dry and fresh fruits apart from being a major exporter of superior quality carpets, wooden art, embroidered clothes and many other valuable crafts,” the report, prepared as part of Mercy Crops’s SKYE [Start-up Kashmir Youth Entrepreneurship] project, reads. In “approaches to address the problems”, the report says the “resolution of Kashmir conflict will not only improve the economic stability of Kashmir but also that of India and Pakistan.” It says the “Kashmir conflict is a major hindrance to the development of Kashmir. There is fear and uncertainty among businessmen, local and non-local, and they hesitate to invest here. People feel isolated and alienated.” The report says the “Government must try to revive the tourism sector of Kashmir economy, since that has immense potential for effective entrepreneurship. New tourist resorts must be developed and investment in the run-of-the-river hydroelectric power projects must be promoted at all levels.” The report, which has largely based its observations on the basis of views from OYK Summit participants, says the government “must introduce economic incentives and encourage people to generate self-employment. Budding youth entrepreneurs must be given tax waiver for starting their businesses. The government must also consider a moratorium on creating new government jobs. It must also consider shedding off deadwood and unnecessary posts.” In a significant suggestion, the report says the “government must establish an independent monitoring agency that can swiftly remove irregularities and corruption in the system. Laws dealing with the stamping out of corruption must be made harsher.” The report has also mentioned suggestions from youth that the government “must open more trade routes across the Line of Control and the Line of Actual Control that separate Kashmir from Pakistan and China respectively. In fact, all the Kashmir’s ancient trade routes must be thrown open for business again and let Kashmir become a hub of business and trade.”


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