National Conference Monday said that the first Budget of the BJP-PDP Government was a waster opportunity to mobilize resources and avenues to boost the State’s economy after the devastating floods that ravaged the State’s public and private infrastructure last September. National Conference Spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said the Budget was an insult to the sufferings of the flood victims as the Finance Minister had categorically chosen to not extend any immediate, short-term relief and also taken an insensitive decision not to enhance the compensation for damaged houses.
“Apart from academic theories and nice sounding philosophy, this is clearly a wasted opportunity to help the State re-emerge from the devastation of the floods. Both PDP and BJP foisted elections on the flood victims and brought the relief and rehabilitation efforts to a grinding halt because of the code of conduct. Before that PDP accused the State Government of dispensing inadequate interim relief to the flood victims. One begs to ask what stopped PDP from enhancing the compensation for damaged houses when it is in power now and had the opportunity of this Budget to help the flood victims? After giving preference to its political rehabilitation with BJP over the rehabilitation of the flood victims, PDP has now clearly abandoned the flood victims without offering a glimmer of hope to thousands of hapless people who were expecting this Budget to primarily be about how their homes, lives and livelihoods would be rebuilt”, NC Spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said in the statement issued from Srinagar.
The NC Spokesman said that it was evident that the Finance Minister had given the Central Government an excuse to not accept the 44,000 crore flood relief package by criticizing it on academic grounds and technical nuances. “On an issue that concerns the lives of thousands of victims, many of whom continue to be homeless, the people expected PDP to finally for once look beyond partisan politics and personal grudges. But seems like personal grudges have taken precedence over the sufferings of the flood victims. Now we all know what will happen of the comprehensive 44,000 crore flood relief package submitted by the Omar Abdullah Government to the Central Government. While the dismissal of the package by the Central Government would have been tragic, the dismissal of the need to give succour and relief to the flood victims by the State’s own Finance Minister is beyond tragic – it’s disgusting”, the NC Spokesman said.
“Let us also be clear on the fact that a lot of promises made in the Budget are unsubstantiated and unaccounted for and we haven’t been told where funds will come from to fund these initiatives. The people of J&K are not concerned about the Finance Minister’s ego being stroked by his self-image of not going to Delhi to ask for funds but are concerned about their growth and progress. We are a resource scarce State trying to emerge from a catastrophic natural calamity. While on one hand the Finance Minister has burdened the Service Sector, nothing has been done to incentivize the Tourism Industry. The floods had ravaged the tourism sector and the people of this State, especially those who are part of the tourism sector were expecting the Budget to provide a policy impetus to the vital sector but alas the PDP-BJP Government has let the State down on this account too”, NC Spokesman Junaid Mattu added.
The NC Spokesman said that PDP had taken the leap from its zero-deficit trickery to another mode of segregating the budget to help conceal their intentions of flouting all responsibilities towards fiscal discipline and balance. “PDP believes in the politics of drama. Now it is clear that is also believes in the economics of drama and self-marketing. The Budget is more than a speech made in the Assembly or a Press Conference held to throw around figures as if one were speaking of one’s personal bank account. The Budget is a policy document that needs to scientifically pave the path for a State’s equitable growth and development. Unfortunately this Budget does not have anything that the people can be happy about. The unemployed youth of the State have been let down and how. This Budget does not create any new jobs and has nothing to boost entrepreneurship in the State”, NC Spokesman Junaid Mattu stated.
“Both the Union Budget and the State Budget have been big letdowns for J&K. The Union Budget post the Gujarat Earthquake had detailed measures to help Gujarat rebuild and re-emerge after the natural calamity. The Union Budget post the J&K floods did not even mention the J&K floods let alone list measures and schemes to help the State rebuild. While the Finance Minister thought of floating bonds for the development of Dal Lake, what stopped him from floating bonds to fund rebuilding the public infrastructure ravaged by the floods? This specific measure was taken after the Gujarat earthquakes and was an enormous success. Is the development of Dal Lake a greater priority than rebuilding our dilapidated highways, reconstructing hundreds of bridges that were swept away? The PDP-BJP Government seems to have misplaced priorities conceived in ivory towers”, the NC Spokesman further stated.
The NC Spokesman also lashed out at the PDP-BJP Government for categorically ignoring the Agriculture, Horticulture and Handicrafts sectors – sectors which provide livelihood and succor to hundreds of thousands of people in the State. “All we have seen from this Government till now is drama and more drama – backtracking, chaos and confusion and the Budget has been another disappointment in the list. We will not allow this Government to abandon the flood victims and forget the interests of the common man in the pursuit of PDP maneuvering economic policy to suit the vested interests of a few corporate lobbies close to the Mufti family. The people of this State deserve a Government that makes policy to benefit the common-man but what the Budget has shown them is PDP’s intent to work for the interests of a few businessmen and corporate lobbies that perhaps helped them during their election campaign”, the NC Spokesman added.