The forthcoming state budget will be a new vision for boosting the economy of trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir.
Minister for Finance, Planning, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Tariq Hameed Karra who became the first finance minister from the politically conscious Srinagar City when he assumed the charge on September 8, said that the state economy, is at a take-off stage and needs continued support to put it in the orbit of sustainable and inclusive growth.
"All this will be taken care off in the forthcoming state budget", Karra, who was elected to the Legislative Assembly from Batamalloo constituency of Srinagar in October 2004, told Hindustan Times.
This year for the first time the state legislature would have its budget session in January-February instead of the customary February-March session, which extended upto April.
Karra said that the budget session was preponed to utilise the working season. In the past the late budget session hampered development works in inaccessible areas of the state.
With this year's early budget, J&K would become the first-ever state in the country to have a preponed budget session, even before the union budget session.
In his presentation before the Planning Commission at New Delhi on December 15, Karra had said that the state had set a target of 8 per cent growth for the State Domestic Product (SDP) for the eleventh plan period.
"For supporting this growth the state needs a large plan with a bigger kitty to finance it in a non-debt creating fashion," said Karra, one of the founder leaders of the coalition government ally, Peoples Democratic Party, which advocates 'self-rule' as the panacea for the Kashmir imbroglio.
"The forthcoming budget would be poor people-friendly. It'll be a realistic one. I'll try to manage the resources of the state without pinching the common man," Karra said.
He has sought the opinion of all shades of thought while preparing the budget and didn't shy away from taking advice of the former finance ministers, Baig and Abdul Rahim Rather, presently the leader of the opposition.
Karra informed that the state's expenditure management was improving with revenue expenditure as a proportion of plan expenditure showing a declining trend. He said the loan financing of the plan has also declined sharply from 57 per cent, a few years ago, to about 30 per cent.
Karra was nominated by PDP as MLC in February 2003 and he made his maiden entry into the state cabinet as the Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Forests in November 2005.
Karra said that the state was on the path of fiscal and operational reforms and added that the recoveries from power this year would be over Rs 450 crore – the highest ever by the state.
The Finance Minister has earned the praise of Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia who was all praise for his vision saying Karra was bubbling with innovative ideas, which were applicable to other states as well.
He is not the one to mince words and has no qualms describing the indifference of New Delhi towards bolstering the economy of the state.
"The major area of concern is that New Delhi is dragging its feet on the commitment made with the states regarding the losses suffered by them with the switchover to VAT regime. Even after two years of VAT implementation, New Delhi is yet to phase out the Central Sales Tax and workout the compensation formula for the states including J&K."
"New Delhi must announce the compensation package in the upcoming union budget to fulfill its commitment in this regard," he said.
Faisul Yaseen: faisulyaseen @gmail.com