Jammu and Kashmir traders criticise state budget

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Jammu: The United Forum of J&K Chambers of Industry and Commerce on Tuesday said demands made by it to the state finance minister were not accommodated in the budgetary proposals tabled by the government.

A statement issued here, after an emergency meeting of all the presidents of trade and industrial associations in the state, said: “We had submitted a pre-budget memorandum to the finance minister.”

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“It is felt that the pre-budget meeting with the finance minister was a mere formality and eyewash as all the legitimate/genuine demands of chamber of commerce and industry which were well taken and agreed upon by the finance minister found no place in the proposed budget.”

The main demands of of the forum included VAT exemption on shawls and anti-cancer drugs, benefits to the tourism/service industry, reduction of tax on automobiles, beedis, cigarettes and “desi ghee” (purified butter).

Also on the list of demands were uniformity of tax on dry fruits and shoes, amnesty on Goods and Services Tax (GST) recoveries, exemption of toll tax on import of fruits and vegetables, exemption of entry tax on machinery used by stone crushing industry, and deletion of mustard oil industry from the negative list.

“All these points were well explained and agreed upon by the finance minister, but the chamber of commerce and industry is surprised that these genuine demands have not been accommodated in the budget.”

The chamber also expressed anguish over the taxation on nursing homes that is not applicable elsewhere in the country as well as taxation on sports services.

“We would like to make it clear to the government of Jammu and Kashmir that if our genuine/legitimate demands are not met with and if the people adversely affected by the floods last year are not rehabilitated, we shall have no option but to resort to agitation at the state level against the coalition government.”

The chamber, however, felt that calling for such steps would be detrimental to the tourism and the economy of the state, and so they extended an invitation to Finance Minister H.A. Drabu for an open debate on any TV channel and asked why did the government behave like a dictatorship and not as a democracy.

The forum said the actions of the government would not only render most of the people in the business community bankrupt but also result in the unemployment of lakhs of youths in the state.