SRINAGAR: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday claimed that abrogation of article 370 has brought transparency in the governance in Jammu and Kashmir.
“In last two years, the work that has happened in Jammu and Kashmir is absolutely stunning. The government procurement, government recruitment, government spending of its resources, taxation or deployment of resources or whatever it be, these things are now available online 24X7 and in a very transparent manner,” the Union Finance Minister told reporters while addressing a press conference at Jammu’s Raj Bhawan after launching new schemes and handing over orders to various beneficiaries under the financial inclusion and credit outreach programme here, as per news agency KNO.
Sitharaman, who is on her first visit to Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, said that even recruitment at the most senior level is done as per norms and all backdoor operations and leakages have been plugged.
“So in terms of bringing transparency in the governance and in terms of bringing a great transparency in the overall governance, I would honestly thank abrogation of 370,” the Union Finance Minister said.
Stating that Jammu and Kashmir is rapidly passing through a developmental phase.
“The development is reaching to all sectors and in a transparent manner,” she said.
She said that economy of Jammu and Kashmir will be doubled in the next few years as the region is rapidly passing through the development phase.
She also said that the projects which were earlier stalled are being completed and communities deprived of benefits are now being benefited.
All social security schemes introduced by the Centre are reaching the people, she said.
“Had good interactions with women entrepreneurs in Kashmir on Monday, which was very inspiring,” said the Finance Minister.
She said that the development of J&K in every aspect is taking place and the World Bank is pooling through an agency for the development of this region.“We will ensure that more public sector banks come in J&K so that a healthy credit outreach can be given,” she added.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said that all the money is taken away from the banks “illegally” will be taken back as the government is actively pursuing the cases of loan defaulters, irrespective of whether they are in India or outside the country.
She said the central government is working in close coordination with the J&K administration to ensure that not only the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) but every centrally sponsored scheme benefits every citizen of the Union territory to ensure that the region also catches up in the growth with the rest of the country.
Sitharaman said that while the government is generously putting all its resources to make J&K work well in a transparent way, ”any wrongdoing that has happened in the banks, any loans which have been taken away and not repaid till now, I am sure our system will work in such a way that the wrongdoers and the money will be brought back.” The finance minister said that is what has been happening in the entire country.
“The non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks had been a cause for worry when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. In order to bring down the NPAs, a specific ‘4Rs’ strategy of recognition, resolution, recapitalisation and reforms showed immediate results,” she said.
Sitharaman reached Jammu on the second leg of her two-day tour from Kashmir and also inspected various stalls put up by various beneficiaries of government schemes.
She said the government pursued the defaulters who took away the loans and let it become the NPA and did not pay back the taxpayers’ money that is what is in the banks, whether they are in this country or gone away from India.
The government ensured that their properties are attached, and through a legal process, sold or auctioned out and that money have been paid back to the banks, she added.
“This shall continue to happen, irrespective of where the NPAs holders are and irrespective of where their accounts were. Every NPA shall be pursued actively and that shall apply to J&K as well,” she said adding “we shall get back all the money taken away from the banks”.
The Union finance minister lauded J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who was also present on the occasion, for the development of the Union Territory in a ”speedy, efficient and transparent” manner.
She assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the Centre will work in close coordination with the local administration to ensure that not only the PMDP is implemented but every scheme that is launched is also brought to the Union Territory and benefits every beneficiary who deserved to be served.
“After 2019 (reorganisation of J&K., we have seen the UT of J&K go through a rapid progression. The projects that have been waiting for a long time are getting implemented and sections of the society that have never had the opportunity of receiving any assistance from the government are getting it.
“And, genuine business that has no other way of getting or accessing credit is also being provided credit,” the finance minister said.
She said the schemes for the poorer sections that benefited the people across the country from a collective infusion of credit through farmer producer organisations or self-help groups are now seeing the light of the day in J&K.
As a result of this, the people feel they may be small but they can also access some kind of help from the government and credit from the banks, the minister added.
Seeking the cooperation of the people in facilitating outsiders to set up their units in Jammu and Kashmir, she said a lot of people want to come and set up industry here and take benefit from the industrial package of the government.
“I will invite more youth to come forward to set up their businesses in J&K. Of course, with more activities on the ground, we may attract people from everywhere else to partner with you (youth of J&K),” she said.
Sitharaman added, “I would certainly underline this fact that when people partner with you, they are not going to displace you or remove you but are strengthening you.” ”You have your strengths but you need more help from resources coming from banks and elsewhere. Today banks alone cannot bring in that kind of equity for activities here,” she said adding that growing activities on the ground would draw people that ultimately boost the economy of J&K.
Referring to the various initiatives of the J&K administration, she said, ”I think it is important for two-way participation — good schemes and good delivery from the government and good participation from the people — and both are all equally required.” She said she will ensure more banking activities take place in J&K and credit help the people in setting their businesses.
“Regarding budgetary support. I had a lot of discussion with the lieutenant governor and I shall like the chief secretary to meet officials in the finance ministry to work out any proposal for the next budget which we will definitely do,” she said.
She also talked about the reforms in the taxation regime and said a new post of principal commissioner for income tax is being created as “we are able to serve the people of J&K better”.