₹1,350-cr aid to revive business sector in J&K; power, water bills subsidised
Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliance campaign) of the Central government, the L-G said, Rs 1400 crore have already been provided to the people of the UT through the Jammu and Kashmir Bank.Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 02:59 IST
Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday announced a Rs 1,350 crore economic package for the revival of the business sector in the Union territory, along with a 50 per cent rebate on electricity and water bills for a one-year period.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Sinha said, “I am glad to announce a Rs 1,350 crores economic package for the people in the business community facing economic difficulties. This is additional to the benefits of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and other measures taken by us to comfort the business community.”
Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliance campaign) of the Central government, the L-G said, Rs 1400 crore have already been provided to the people of the UT through the Jammu and Kashmir Bank.
“For one year, we will be giving a 50 per cent concession in water and electricity bills. We will be spending Rs 105 crore on this. This will benefit farmers, normal people, businessman and others,” the L-G said. “This is a beginning and more things are in the offing.”
He added that the government is working on a structured mechanism and package for taxi drivers, transporters, autorickshaw drivers, houseboat owners, shikarawallas and others who have been affected by the economic slowdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are setting up a customised help tourism scheme by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for financial assistance to persons associated with the tourism sector with attractive pricing and repayment features. We are setting up an exclusive land bank and will make available land for warehouses in industrial estates and food parks,” Sinha said.
The main component of the ‘Business Revival Package’, Sinha said, is a 5 per cent interest subvention to all borrowers irrespective of their sizes. “You know that at the most, a two-per cent interest subvention is provided and that is what the people expect as well. However, keeping in mind the special situation here -- businesses have been suffering for the last about 20 years -- we have decided to give an interest subvention of five per cent without any discrimination to all businesses whether small, medium or heavy. This is an unprecedented decision,” he said. The Union Territory administration will directly support this with Rs 950 crore, he added.
The L-G also announced that stamp duty has been exempted for all borrowers till March 2021. “From October 1, J&K bank will set up special desk for the youth and women entrepreneurs,” he said.
The administration has also decided to assist bus drivers/conductors, auto/taxi drivers etc, who may have lost their livelihood, by providing for an appropriate mechanism. “A further 50% or Rs 5 lakh subsidy, whichever is lower, shall provided to the transporters for replacement of old buses and the insurance premium shall be borne by the Government,” Sinha announced.
He also announced that those associated with the handloom and handicraft sectors will get an enhanced credit of Rs 2 lakh in their credit cards as also a seven-per cent interest subvention to improve these sectors.
“Overall, this economic package is historic in terms of volume and reach. I can see that Kashmiris are eager to contribute to the growth of the Union Territory as they are fed up with the cross-border terrorism sponsored by our neighbour. I strongly feel that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that a lot of money goes into creation of jobs, strengthening of businesses and coming together of families for a quick bounce-back of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy,” Sinha said.
The L-G had constituted a committee on August 18 to assess the help required by the business community of Jammu and Kashmir and also suggest administrative measures to boost banking, industry, tourism, agriculture and handicrafts.
The committee, headed by K K Sharma, the advisor to the L-G, submitted its report on September 1 after deliberations with at least 35 business organisations from Srinagar and Jammu.
The package also includes the Guaranteed Emergency Credit Loan (GECL), Working Capital Demand Loan (WCDL) facility for Private Educational Institutions and the J&K Business Support Loan Scheme for hotels and guest houses, which are likely to be rolled out soon.
Welcoming the package, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ president Shiekh Ashiq said that Sinha has kept his promise. “The business community appreciates this gesture of the government. We are going through the components of the package and if there will be any shortcoming, we will again meet the Lt Governor. We are really thankful for this package.”
(With Agency inputs)