Expressing gratitude to union government for financial support to the state and providing Rs. 7300 crore Plan grants for the current fiscal, the chief minister said, “There are still Rs. 1900 crores with the centre which have not been transferred to the state so far. This sometimes create difficulties for the state to carry on financial commitments”, he said adding that he would take up the issue of early release of this amount by the centre with the Prime Minister soon.
Underscoring the importance of financial self-sufficiency in catapulting development and attaining new highs of progress and prosperity, Omar Sunday called for developing a mindset by the civil society and the government of working together to realize this goal.
“The hand which contributes and extends financial support is always better than the one which receives it”, he said adding that God has bestowed upon Jammu and Kashmir his blessings in the shape of water resources in plenty and these could be utilized to transform the economy of the State by generating surplus hydro energy.
Addressing a function after inaugurating Toll Plaza on Sunday, the chief minister said that enhancing tax or bit is not the answer to strengthen state’s financial position but generation of electricity in huge quantity is only way forward to make financial autonomy role the roast in the state’s development process.
“Whatever is our right to receive from the center we should get it with our heads up, but when it is in the shape of concessions and mercies one does not feel elated”, he said adding that the total dependence on Central financial support has to be reversed by the joint efforts and determination of the people and the state government.
“We have lagged behind in harnessing the hydro electric potential of 20,000 MWs available in the state. Had half of it been realized so far we would have been providing 24×7 electricity to the consumers and industries in the state and selling about 5000 MWs to other parts of the country”, he said reiterating his government’s resolve to make necessary dent in this regard. He said his government has already launched prestigious projects in the state sector, in joint ventures, in PPP and IPP modes and the day is not far away when state would bash new strides in power generation and achieve the cherished goal of self-reliance.
Saying that coalition government is committed to public service, Omar Abdullah said that besides focusing on upgradation and improvement of basic facilities across the state, the consolidation of health and education sectors loomed large in the development policy of his government during the last four years. “We enacted and implemented legislations to reduce the chances of corruption in public service delivery systems, to bring more transparency in administration and strengthen the institutions to empower people and make government answerable before them. Our endeavour in this direction would continue”, he said adding that the government was sincerely moving forward to provide good-governance and people-friendly administration.
Congratulating finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Manohar Lal Sharma and the officers of the Finance Department for completing the Toll Plaza project at Lakhanpur, Omar Abdullah said that he is fortunate to inaugurate the prestigious project for which three Chief Ministers made endeavours one after other.
The chief minister said that Lakhanpur is the face of Jammu and Kashmir State and most of the visitors and people visit through this township to the state besides huge trade and commerce activities taking place via this station. He said that befitting and modern facilities at this place are all the more necessary to give good impression to the people and the traders visiting Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather said the concept of a modern Toll Post at Lakhanpur was conceived by him in the year 1999-2000 as finance minister and he directed the concerned for formulating a plan in this regard. The land acquisition process began and the work on new Toll Plaza started in the year 2008. He said that the keen interest of Omar Abdullah for this modern facility at the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir fast tracked the construction program and it has been completed in over three years.
Completed at a cost of Rs. 42.58 crores, the new Toll Plaza has 9 Weigh Bridges for trucks and 5 Bus Bays for buses and light vehicles. “The Plaza has a main office block and a parking facility for 240 trucks. It has shelter place for drivers with nearby sanitation facilities. The recreation building constructed in the complex has facility for traders and businessmen to stay. The building also provides additional facilities for tourists and passengers with 24×7 systems of drinking water and electricity supply”, said Rather.
The finance minister said that the new Toll Plaza to be fully computerized with application of e-governance techniques will not only upgrade tax collection plugging leakages but provide a great relief to the trading community. The payment of passenger tax, toll tax, entry tax and other taxes will be now online also. He said that all the financial units of the state would be totally computerized by April 2013.
He said the new Toll Plaza has provided adequate office accommodation to both the wings of Excise and Commercial Taxes Departments. This would provide conducive working condition to the functionaries helping in enhancing efficiency.
Rather asked the officers to deal with dealers and traders in a sophisticated, professional and kind manner. “You should take full care of legal formalities, but your PR should also be up to the mark”, he told them.
He said that the tax collection which was just Rs. 2600 crores in 2008-2009 has gone to over Rs. 5500 crores last year and the State has registered 34 percent increase in the growth of tax collection. “This has been recognized and appreciated at the highest forums in the Country”, he said adding that Jammu and Kashmir has been tagged as one of the best States showing remarkable growth in tax collection.
The Minister said that despite imposing no tax on people during the last four years by the coalition government, the remarkable growth in tax collection has been achieved by plugging the leakages and making the systems more transparent.