Kashmir Inc Hails 'business-friendly' Budget

22 March 2015
Rising Kashmir
Junaid Kathju

Srinagar: The business fraternity in Kashmir has hailed the maiden budget of PDP-BJP coalition presented on Sunday. However, they also complained that some of their demands had not been taken into consideration. Former president of Federation Chamber of Industry Kashmir (FCIK) Shakeel Qalandar said it is a budget with a direction and is aimed towards growth. 'It is a well-structured budget and has clear direction and targets. If it clicks it will be beneficial for everyone in future,' said Qalandar. He said the change in the structure of state budget from plan and non-plan expenditure into revenue and capital would clear the confusion among the masses. 'It is a very good step. There was a lot of confusion between plan and non-plan expenses. This new direction is a welcome change,' said Qalandar. He said the revenue loss insurance cover is another remarkable step in the budget that would invite new companies and entrepreneurs to invest here. 'Keeping in view the volatile situation in the valley, it will make business community to feel at ease if any unusual situation arises. It is a big relief for traders who often had to shun their business amid curfews and hartals in the valley,' said Qalandar. Qalandar said even though the budget lacks certain things but to come up with this kind of budget in three weeks is appreciable. President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Sheikh Ashiq said it was an uphill task for government to come out with the budget in a short period of time after the portfolios were assigned. 'It was a difficult task. Preparing the budget at such a short notice was not easy. Overall it is a satisfactory budget,' said Ashiq. He said measures like introducing chartered flights on Kashmir route, providing Rs 1000 to a girl till 14 years of age are some of the highlights of the budget. However, Ashiq said there was no special provision for sectors that incurred huge losses in the last year's floods. 'No doubt that the budget was full of challenges and people were expecting a lot from it. There were no sector wise details in it that were affected by the floods,' said Ashiq. Ashiq said KCCI would hold an executive meeting on Monday to deliberate on the pros and cons of the budget. President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Yasin Khan said even though the overall budget is satisfactory, but some of their demands have not been met. 'I am quite satisfied with the budget but it could have been better. Many of our points that we put before the Finance Minister were not considered,' he said. Khan said no measures were taken about their demand for uniform rate of tax at 5 percent and keeping only one toll tax in the state. Bashir Ahmad Basheer, Chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union-President of the New Kashmir Fruit Association, said the budget is satisfactory and would benefit the farmers and growers in the long run. 'Waving off KCC loans, placing Tree Spray Oil at zero percent tax rate are some of the significant decisions that have been taken in the budget,' said Basheer. While hailing the budget, President Employee Joint Action Committee (EJAC) Abdul Qayoom Wani said it was employee friendly. 'This budget has something for everyone. Our long pending demand to increase DA for employees has finally been fulfilled,' he said. Wani said the introduction of 'Revenue and Capital' is also a big relief for all the employees which were not getting their salaries on time. Chairman Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association (KHARA), Showkat Chowdhary appreciated Finance Minister for presenting a budget 'aiming at self-reliance and fiscal autonomy'. 'We appreciate state government's sincerity to provide succor to flood-affected people of the state by creating separate Relief and Rehabilitation Department to fast track the rehabilitation process,' He said. Chowdhary said a separate power sector budget will also help state's business community which was suffering due to frequent power outages. 'This is a landmark initiative of the new government. Now government should ensure supply of 24x7 affordable electricity to all domestic, commercial and industrial consumers,' he said. President of Federation Chamber of Industries, Kashmir (FCIK), Mohammad Ashraf Mir said apart from revival of sick industries, the budget has nothing for the industrial sector. 'The overall budget is all right but for industries there is not much. After our meeting with Finance Minister we were expecting more than what we have been granted,' said Mir.