JK Business Bodies Boycott Pre-Budget Discussions with State Govt
JK Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu
SRINAGAR: Prominent business bodies are boycotting the pre-budget meeting with the state government over its "failure" to rehabilitate the flood-affected people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The two-day deliberations, which began on Monday, were called by the state's finance minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, ahead of the budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature which will commence from January 18 in the winter capital Jammu.
Addressing reporters in Srinagar, Muhammad Yasin Khan, Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance, said the chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led coalition government failed to take concrete steps which could have soothed the bruised sentiment of the business community.
"The chief minister failed to convince the union government to sanction appropriate amount of flood package, although he justified the unholy alliance for getting a generous flood package and liberal funding for infrastructure development," Khan said at the press conference.
He said the businesses have been left out of the recent financial package announced by the Centre for Jammu and Kashmir and they will boycott the pre-budget deliberations with Dr Drabu, which will conclude today.
"The state government had created an environment of hope which had infused fresh life into the businesses. All those hopes have been belied. The experience with the present government has been very disturbing and discouraging,” he said.
Accusing the coalition government of unleashing “a reign of terror” on traders, Khan said unwarranted raids are being conducted by commercial taxes department, labour department and income tax department to harass the business community.
“They extort undue tax from business people, although the government has received 26% higher tax revenue than the previous year during the corresponding period,” he said.
“The coalition has badly failed to rehabilitate the victims of the last year's flood. We feel let down and in such a situation, the pre-budget consultations with the finance minister do not carry any meaning," Gowhar Maqbool, KCCI's senior vice-president, said.
Afaq Ahmad, senior vice-president of FCIK, said the government failed in addressing the issue of unemployment and providing electricity to the people. "Even industrial estates are left without electricity. What will we do? If the situation does not improve, we will be forced to lock our units and throw the keys in front of the civil secretariat here," he said.
The presser was called by various trade bodies including Kashmir Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Federation Chamers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Transport Associations and Fruit Growers Association.
However, the representatives of Chamber of Commerce of Kashmir, Houseboat Owners Association, Goods Transport Association, Travel and Tour Operators, Poultry and Farmers Association, Anantnag Traders Federation, Pahalgam Hoteliers Association, Hotels Association, Tourism Alliance and other trade bodies attended the consultation meet.
"Dr Drabu in his concluding remarks said that the relation between business community and government is symbiotic in nature and efforts should be made to strengthen it for mutual benefit. Any effort to weaken this symbiotic relation impacts economy and livelihood of people,” the official spokesperson said.