Srinagar, Dec 9: In a bid to facilitate industrial activity, businesses and trade by preparing more convenient budget for 2019-2020, Advisor to Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma today held a pre-budget consultation with the stake holders of Kashmir division.
Principal Secretary Finance, Navin Kumar Choudhary; Commissioner Sales Taxes, P K Bhat; Excise Commissioner Talat Parvez Rohella, Additional Commissioner, Sales Taxes, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, Deputy commissioners of various units of Commercial Taxes and Excise departments and others were present during the consultations.
On the occasion, Advisor Sharma met with the various forums representing different sectors including Industrialists, hoteliers, manufacturers, traders and others and listened to their suggestions in order to come up with the more convenient budget.
Various suggestions were received from representatives of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Kashmir Brick Manufacturers Association, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Association, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation, Kashmir Economic Forum, Bread Manufacturers Association of Kashmir, Cold Storage Association and Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir.
Besides, the representatives from Education Sector, tourism, Agriculture, Horticulture, tour and travel operators, Industrial Estates Zakura, Industrial Association Rangreth and others also put forward their suggestions while requesting Advisor Sharma to incorporate them in the upcoming budget.
The representatives of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association requested for formulation of budget for few power projects which will be owned by the state, saying, this will help in further adding to the financial stability of the state to a greater extent. They also called for inclusion of Petrol and Diesel under GST. The representatives urged the Advisor to relieve the handicrafts from the domain of GST.
These representatives also brought to the notice of Advisor that various promises with regards to the GST have been made to the people but are yet to be fulfilled adding to the increasing concern to the business fraternity. They also demanded that there should be proper awareness with regard to the process and issues under GST.
On the occasion, Advisor Sharma directed the concerned officials to setup the training centers in every district where the businessmen can get themselves acquainted with the knowhow of the GST. In these centers training will be given about all the basics of GST including how to file a return, he added.
The demand for constitution of the GST Advisory board in the State also came up during the discussion.
The representatives from the Private schools demanded that the government should identify the place in Kashmir which can be later developed as the education hub. Around 2000 crore rupees is spent by the Kashmiri students to study in various parts of the world outside Kashmir, the representative said.
The issue of not implementing of Amnesty Schemes for industrialists and hoteliers including waiving off of interest, penalties and charging of power tariff at par with industrial rates for industrialists and hoteliers announced in the State Budget 2018-19 was also discussed by various representatives.
Transporters said that the transport sector is in very bad shape and demanded special focus on its betterment.
While calling tourism one of the huge employment generating sectors, the representatives from tourism sector demanded establishment of an agency to look into the wrong and negative perception given through media about Kashmir.
Advisor Sharma gave a patient hearing to the suggestions by various stake holders and assured the delegations that their submissions will be given a thorough deliberation for inclusion in the State Budget to achieve better results on ground.
RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit: SIC
Srinagar, March 20: The State Information Commission (SIC) on Wednesday agreed that there were loopholes in public information deliverance system.
The Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 came into force on 20 March 2009, repealing and replacing the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2004 is not been implemented and followed by the authority in a professional manner.
On eve of 10th anniversary of RTI Act Jammu and Kashmir, Commissioner, SIC, Mohammad Ashraf Mir discussed various “deficiencies, weaknesses” that are responsible for the modest implementation of Act.
Mir said that RTI act is not been taken strictly by the authorities. “We know that the Act is not implemented the way it was designed to be implemented,” he accepted.
Mir said that they know that the government and its instrumentalities love to take credit of RTI Act but are reluctant to submit to its laws.
Moreover, the department is not professionally trained to deal with the dissemination of information.
“The public information officers (PIOs) in government departments are still not well versed with the work, resulting to denial of information to applicants,” said Mir.
He added that this powerful tool of right to get information is sometimes being misused in the hands of citizens also. “The information sought under the act is not be used in the manner it ought to be used.”
Mir said that there is a lack of awareness among the citizens who ought to use the RTI to get the required information, adding that the NOG’s and the social activists who are veterans of the RTI should educate the people on the procedure to file the RTI and be more specific.
Besides all these deficiencies, the record keeping in the entire government departments is in shambles. Mir said that the poor digitization of records in all the government departments act as the wall stone for disseminating the information.
Chairman Jammu and Kashmir RTI movement, Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool showed some light on the struggle to pass the Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr. Rasool said, “The founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act is Late Balraj Puri and Advocate Irfan Hafiz lone.”
He said that J&K RTI was earlier passed in 2004 but it was very week and lacked various laws and regulations. “We formed J&K RTI movement which established the Act in 2009.”
The event was held at Kashmir University by J&K RTI Movement in collaboration with Center of Central Asian Studies.
JK Assembly polls: EC observer team yet to submit its report to CEC: CEO
Srinagar, Mar 20: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar on Wednesday said that the three member team of election observers appointed for Jammu and Kashmir is yet to submit its report to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and any decision on the conduct of assembly elections in the state will be taken after ECI’s consultation with the Union Home Ministry on additional security deployments for assembly polls in the state.
CEO Shailendra Kumar said, “The three member team of election observers which recently visited Jammu and Kashmir to reassess the situation for conduct of assembly elections in the state has not submitted its report to
Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora yet but will be submitted to the election commission of India very soon. A decision on holding assembly elections will be taken by election commission of India only after consultations with the union home ministry on the timing of assembly elections in the state.”
On March 14, three member team of observers appointed by the Election Commission of India arrived Srinagar to meet the political parties and “assess the feasibility” for holding the assembly elections in J&K.
Upon their arrival, the team drove to the Lalit hotel located on the upscale Gupkar Road where they will hold one-on-one meetings with the regional parties for discussing the timing and phasing of the state assembly polls.
The ECI had appointed former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the feasibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to their mandate, the observers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders, and discuss modalities for holding the assembly elections.
The ECI’s decision to not hold the assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked a massive uproar with the regional political parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party accusing the Centre of “eroding the democratic set-up” in the state.
However, sources in the government said it is “impossible” to hold the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections given the deteriorating security situation in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing.
“For holding Lok Sabha polls for Baramulla constituency alone, we need 400 companies of central paramilitary forces. If assembly polls are held simultaneously, it will require massive deployment. We can’t compromise on security,” a top government officer said.
ERA initiates blacklisting of defaulting contractors
Srinagar, Mar 20: J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA) has initiated the process of blacklisting/debarment of contractors who had violated various contract conditions in 12 contract packages under ADB Loan I and Loan II.
As per an official communiqué issued here, CEO ERA, Dr. Raghav Langer said that the FIDIC contract agreement conditions clearly defines every term and condition for execution of contracts and the procedure for blacklisting and debarment of defaulting contractors.
He further added that ERA has accordingly initiated the process of blacklisting and debarment of contractors, under J&K Registration of Contractor Act 1956 in case there were inordinate delays thereby depriving public of intended benefits and causing huge loss to state exchequer, structural faults, corrupt and fraudulent practices, misrepresentation, indulging in false claims under arbitration, nonperformance, abandoning of works etc.
The CEO reiterated the need for professional management of contracts and said that erring contractors of J&K ERA under previously executed Road Projects, Flyovers Project, Sewerage and Water Supply Schemes, Dewatering and Drainage Schemes in Jammu & Kashmir regions have been issued notices which shall be confirmed by adopting the due process.
The removal of name from Register under Act No. 6 of 1956 sub-clause 5 shall there by prevent them from participating in any future contracts in the State of J&K.
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