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Biz community happy, employees call Budget ‘victory without war’

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Srinagar, Jan 11: The 2018-2019 state budget presented by Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, on Thursday evoked appreciations from business community and government employees in the state.
Drabu present fourth budget of the PDP-BJP government in J&K Legislative Assembly, where he proposed several “welfare measures” for the business community, employees, transgender, and journalists of the state.
Reacting to the budget, senior employees’ leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani, termed it a “pro-employees” budget. “Whatever has been announced in the budget for employees is a victory without war,” he said.
He was referring to Drabu announcement for releasing of 1 per cent Dearness Allowance to the employees from July 1, 2017.
The 7th Pay Commission Recommendations to be implemented from April 1, 2018 will be effective from 1st January, 2016, the Finance Minister said.
The government has also reduced the eligibility for full pension from 33 years of qualifying service to 20 years of qualifying service, which according to Wani would benefit employees. “The health insurance scheme is also a welcome step,” he said.
He thanked Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Finance Minister, Chief Secretary, and Principal Secretary Finance Department for the employees “friendly” budget.
However, he said that government should also include contingent paid employees, casual labourers of various corporations into the recently announced SRO 502.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry termed the budget “encouraging”.
President KCCI, Javid Ahmad Tenga welcomed the announcement of power amnesty to all sectors of the industry.
“We appreciate the seriousness of Finance Minister in reviving the transport sector,” Tenga said.
He also welcomed inclusion of tourism industry (hotel, resorts etc.) in regard to power tariff at par with industry, which he said was a long pending demand of the KCC&I.
“In regard to subsidizing 1/3rd interest post flood contrary to our demand for refund of full interest, we demand other 2/3rd be get from the GOI to be followed up vigorously or all these will become NPAs,” he said.
He also welcomed the setting up of dry port with DPA of Dubai to give logistic connection for J&K, and education loan interest intervention.
“We also welcome the intervention proposed by Finance Minister in respect of silk industry, bat industry, walnut, national saffron mission, apple industry, CA store, packaging of apple, which will need further improvement in consultation with KCC&I,” Tenga said.
The President KCCI said they appreciated inclusion of handicraft units under MSME for all industrial incentives, which he said was their long pending demand.”
“We appreciate The Finance Minister for taking steps in making the JKSPDC a public limited company,” he said.
However, he said that the Finance Minister had chosen to take “advantage” of Sec. 5 of the J&K Constitution to “impose further taxes”.
Caretaker Chairman, Houseboat Owners Association, Haji Ghulam Mohammad Pakhtoon thanked Chief Minister and Finance Minister for announcing one time waiver of Rs. 147.23 lakh on soft loans to 19 houseboat owners.
“This is a welcome step. We had met the Finance Minister in this regard and he made announcement today,” Pakhtoon added.
Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), General Secretary, Tariq Mushtaq Mir welcomed the government’s announcement to treat hotels and resorts at par with the industries as far as payment of power tariff is concerned. “It was a long pending demanding of hoteliers,” Mir said. “Now it depends how the government is going to implement it,” he added.
Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) President Mukhtar Yousuf said there was some “ambiguity” in the budget. “We will react to it once we go through detailed into the budget,” he added.
In his budget speech, Drabu said that government will consider of providing alternate incentive in lieu of CST to the industrial units in the state.
“Government shall also provide freight subsidy to the industrial units located in the State and transporting their manufactured goods beyond 1000 kilometres outside the state. Government shall make available refund of SGST to all the industrial units, which were hitherto eligible for VAT exemption. It is proposed to grant waiver of penalty and interest on arrears of tax in respect of all the dealers registered under the provisions of J&K Value Added Tax, 2005 and J&K General Sales Tax Act, 1962,” Drabu said.

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