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Staring at huge losses, Kashmir Inc asks Centre to announce separate package for business revival

Srinagar: Staring at huge losses, Kashmir Inc. has sent an SOS to the central government seeking a separate package for business revival in the valley.

Joint organization of Industries and Trade, a newly formed amalgam of 30 trade bodies Wednesday said there is nothing for Kashmir in the recently announced Rs 20 lakh crore package for Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

Addressing media, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) president Sheikh Ashiq said the Centre has ignored the interest of Kashmir’s business community, which has witnessed “lockdown for the last ten months now.” 

“Our businesses have been suffering losses since August 5 and we haven’t yet come out of that lockdown. Despite holding deliberations about losses and challenges being faced by Kashmir’s business fraternity with the Union Home Minister and Union Finance minister and MoS PMO, the traders of Kashmir haven’t been included in Rs 20 lakh crore financial package,” he said.

President KCCI said they Centre should help the traders of Kashmir like they did to their counterparts across the country.

“Our friends in various states raised voice over the losses. The government announced a package for those affected by the lockdown. We would be meeting the Centre again. The meeting could not happen earlier because of the Covid-19,” he said.

Ashiq said the businesses have been under deep stress due to the previous lockdowns and prevailing situation.

“All the traders demand measures from the Centre for the revival of businesses. This was the only aim for holding a joint presser today to raise our voice in support of bleeding sectors,” he said.

Ashiq said the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation of traders.

“As the government has announced relaxations, the business fraternity is facing the challenge of cash flow. There is no circulation of money in the market which is primarily due to the prolonged shutdown since August 5,” he said.

President KCCI said the preliminary assessment about the situation of various sectors during the Covid-19 lockdown has been “disappointing”.

About the tourism sector, he said the stakeholders have closed their operations and are not expecting any footfalls this year. “The arrivals for the next year are also doubtful,” he said.

Horticulture, he said, has suffered immensely due to the closed markets and the lack of demand. Ashiq said handicrafts exports have dropped by 50-60 percent. He said the transport sector has again witnessed no activity due to the COVID -19 pandemic,

Ashiq noted that suspension of high-speed 4G connectivity has also affected normal life.

“The restoration of 4G internet services seems a farfetched dream. Our students are suffering. The nation can’t prosper without education, which has taken a backseat in Jammu and Kashmir for many months now,” he said.

Vice-Chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Iqbal Ahmad claimed the valley has witnessed 3000 days of lockdown in over two decades. “Business became the first causality of political disturbances in the valley. Since 1999, Kashmir has witnessed 3000 days of lockdown,” he said.

KEA vice-chairman said none of the businessmen from Kashmir have become defaulter of banks despite witnessing losses.

“None from the traders’ community behaved like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Kashmiri traders, who borrowed money from the banks, paid their installments.  The Rs 80000 Crore package announced for Jammu and Kashmir after floods was too meager to revive the businesses,” he said.

The trade bodies, which participated in the press conference included Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCC&I), Kashmir Traders & Manufacturing Federation (KTMF), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), PHD Chamber of Commerce (Kashmir Chapter), Kashmir Hotel & Restaurant  Owners Federation (KHAROF), Jammu & Kashmir Hotelier Club (JKHC), Jammu & Kashmir Association of Hajj & Umrah Companies (JKAHUC) and others.