Abdul Rahim Rather


2012-340Finance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rahim Rather found himself presenting yet financial pedestal after a hiatus of six years. One would have thought of Rather losing his stereotypical persona after being in the opposition for more than half a decade, but the old man has still lot of power left in his bones.

An experienced politician Rather has come a long way since 1977 when he won from Chrar-e-Sharief segment for the first time. Wining his home segment for the sixth consecutive terms has already made him a legendry politician, a feat that rarely anybody can claim.

Although VAT regime has taken away the exclusivity of budgets of Indian states, these are still watched with keen interest. Unfortunately, this time the VOA limited the scope of the exercise and moral code of conduct (because of Lok Sabha elections) prevented Rather from saying much. Still Rather’s VOA has given a broad detail of state’s requirements. It needs a whopping sum of Rs. 9503 crores to run the affairs of the government for the first five months of 2009-10 until it readies itself for a full-fledged budget after Lok Sabha polls.

Almost two-third of the five months bill would fund the establishment that Rather put at Rs. 6153 crores. Of the remaining funds going as capital expenditure Rs. 2100 crores are by debit to the yearly development plan, Rs. 500 crores under central sponsored schemes and the remaining Rs. 750 crores would come from the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction plan.

For the current fiscal, Rather anticipated state’s receipts at Rs. 19077 crores including Rs. 3265 crores as capital receipts (borrowings). Of this, almost two-third Rs. 12630 crores would go as revenue expenditure and the remaining Rs. 6447 crores as capital expenditure that mostly comprises the plan of Rs. 4500 crores.

Skipping criticism of his predecessors, Rather in his brief speech for vote on account referred to certain challenges that included the problems state’s export basket is face to face with. He said the impacting of job opportunities in export-intensive handicrafts and dry fruit sectors would require state’s hand-holding but did not offer any way-out. He promised new policy formulations on almost every sector but asked people to wait till July. However, he mentioned almost all the initiatives that the government has already taken that chiefly comprised of accepting the sixth pay commission recommendations.

In general, there was no criticism because VOA is a standard practice of maintaining a status quo. But he was not spared on the issue of sleeping over the impact of the recession. Right now hundreds of jobs were lost in handicraft sector because exporters have their capital blocked for lack of sales in the west. “By the time he comes out with his idea of fighting the crisis, there would be thousands of job losses”, one opposition lawmaker said. Trade is already frustrated over the artisans’ class switching over to other trades for survival.

But it was not all about the VOA. Rather is the face of the party that people recognize. Even in the house it is he who is playing second fiddle to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in responding to most of the queries in defence of the government.


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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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