Winding up the debate on his budget proposals, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu said the State owned Power Development Corporation (SPDC) will go public next year as its accounts are up-to-date. Initially, he said it will be offering 15% safe equity for state subjects which will be managed in such a way that within a few years the dividends from could equal power tariff of the shareholders.
He said the losses that the power sector is incurring in the state nearly equal the resource gap in overall finances of the state. Once it is plugged, the public finances will stabilize. This, he said is the main reason why he has reverted to separating the power sector from the rest of the state’s budget proposals.
This, Drabu said,was despite the fact, that he has inherited Rs 9000 crore liability as a legacy , which he will manage in coming days.
Defending strongly his ideation of outsourcing and improving State Motir Gararges, Dr Drabu announced enhancing some of the measures he had announced earlier. He merged the two schemes under which the widows and destitute were given a paltry pension and increased their monthly pension to Rs 1000. Same scale was applied to another scheme for the handicapped.
Insisting that he received a good response to creation of model villages, Dr Drabu said while there will be one more ethnographic village at Mattan in addition to Haal in Shupyan. He also announced one more model business village each for Mango, Apricot, Rajmah in addition to apple, basmati and saffron he had announced already. All these villages to be taken up on pilot basis will have all the necessary technologies that go into the production and marketing of these commodities.
The minister said he considers the crafts sector as a heritage industry sector and will make all efforts to convert artisans into artists. For this, he announced, he will be working on a craft policy.
Refusing to accept the idea from some lawmakers that part of the traffic to Vaishno Devi could be diverted to Kashmir, Drabu said pilgrim tourism cannot be converted into luxury tourism because a pilgrim is in a different state of mind.
Defending his decision to get the PSEs out of the administrative control of respective departments, Drabu said he will create two holding companies for managing them properly in such a way that every one of them within next three years contributes Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore to the consolidated account.
But the major initiative taht Drabu announced was about the traditional streams – the agriculture Khuls, which he wants to restore. He said these irrigation canals will be revived with the help of the World Bank and will help J&K change its profile. This will also help improve the quality of water for drinking, reduce encroachments and add to the water retention capacity of the state during adverse climatic conditions.
Defending his decision of improving and upgrading the status of the State Motor Garages, Drabu said he wants to get all the official transport come under it which is upward of 1400 vehicles so that the state government can leverage its strength. This, he said will do away with corruption, improve the utilization of the fleet and get good revenue.