Srinagar/New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Saturday approved a record Rs 1,350 package to spur growth in businesses and jobs in Jammu and Kashmir hit by terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic.
The economic package will primarily act as a lifeline to distressed entities, self-employed individuals in tourism and transport sectors and will also offset economic slowdown triggered by the contagious pandemic and delicate security scenarios since the last 15-20 years, the LG office said in a statement.
The Sinha administration has also waived off 50 per cent electricity and water bills for one year in the state to bring relief to farmers and businesses.
The decision on the mega package was in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on August 15 when he reassured that J&K has begun its ‘vikas yatra’ (development journey) since it became an UT a year ago, for growth in diverse sectors and sweeping reforms will be brought in to contribute for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or self- reliant India.
On August 18, Lt Governor Sinha constituted a committee to assess the help required by the business community and administrative measures needed to boost banking, industry, tourism, agriculture and handicrafts. The committee had submitted its report on September 1, after long deliberations with at least 35 business organisations from Srinagar and Jammu, the statement said.
The recommendations have been accepted by the Lt Governor Sinha, the government said adding that they will eventually empower Kashmiris — especially those who have lost their business and livelihoods — besides providing conducive environment for various other industries to complement Prime Minister Modi’s vision of “Vocal for Local,” ” Make in India” and “Make for World”.
Since taking over charge of J&K last month, Sinha has cleared a slew of schemes to bring administration to people’s doors and rebuild trust and faith in the administration, the government said.
“Overall, this economic package is historic in terms of volume and reach. I can see Kashmiris are eager to contribute to the growth of the UT as they are fed up of cross-border terrorism sponsored by our neighbour.
“I strongly feel that it’s our collective responsibility to ensure a lot of money goes into creation of jobs, strengthening of businesses and coming together of families for a quick bounce-back of the J&K economy. I have twin objectives — ensure more money in people’s pocket and offer more opportunity for revival of J&K economy,” Sinha said.
“Green shoots of economic revival are visible and I am confident that with this package, we will be able to steer Jammu and Kashmir through the current crisis,” he added, hinting that the central government is actively considering further unprecedented and historical package for assistance to the business entities, which will cover both the existing and new enterprises and will be a big boost to business and industry in Jammu and Kashmir.
A government spokesperson said the main component of the package is five per cent interest subvention to all borrowers irrespective of their size which would cost about Rs 950 crore to the government exchequer.
“The interest subvention will be available for six months in the current financial year to provide much needed relief for people hit by Covid-19 pandemic,” the government said.
Interest subvention is basically subsidy offered on interest rates to handhold the business community. “We have also decided to provide 50 per cent waiver for one year with respect to electricity and water charges which would cost Rs 105 crore — an additional burden on economy the government is willing to bear for people’s interest.”
The government has also decided to assist bus drivers/conductors, auto/taxi drivers etc. who may have lost their livelihood by providing for appropriate mechanisms.
The administration will extend assistance to houseboat owners, transporters, etc. by way of assistance for replacement of old vehicles and insurance etc. “Taking note of the difficulties in the last few years, we have agreed to provide pending interest subvention with respect to restructured accounts of 2014 and 2016,” the government spokesperson further added.
Apart from this fresh set of economic stimulus, the government is implementing a ‘special economic package’ announced by the Prime Minister on May 12 under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.