With traders trading between Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) threatening to suspend movement of goods for two weeks, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday assured that the traders’ concerns will be taken up with the Centre “to make the mechanism more facilitating and easy for traders.”
The traders on May 28 had threatened to suspend trade at the Salamabad-Chakoti crossing point, demanding market-viable items as the present goods list is not profitable.
“We demand government to include profitable items on the list and let the trade blossom,” said Salamabad-Chakoti Traders Association general secretary Hilal Ahmad Turki.
During the traders’ meeting with Abdullah on Wednesday, the chief minister said he would take up the issues of creating banking relations and communication facilities between the traders of the two sides with the Centre.
The J-K chief minister also stressed on “freezing of the commodity list for at least one year identifying items of business so that there will be no ambiguity about the trading of various commodities”.
“These aspects are essentially required to flourish the trade and give it a concrete edifice,” said Abdullah.
The J-K government has decided to convene a high-level meeting to look into other issues pertaining to the cross-LoC trade.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has already put forth its suggestions to improve the trade relation, which was started in 2008 between Kashmir and PoK.
“Improving banking relations, communication network to enable traders to know the rates prevailing on the other, legal networks for dispute resolution, currency issues, periodic buyer-seller meets,” said Abdul Hamid Punjabi of the KCCI.
At present, there are only 21 items for trading. The traders are also demanding exemption of profit from the income tax.
“The LoC trade needs to be delinked from the security influence of various agencies. There are at least three agencies staioned at the facilitation centres,” said Hamid.