‘Government fails to fulfil promises’

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Muhammad Yasin Khan assumed charge of President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) in February 2011, after being a successful trader for 20 years. In an interview with Ikhlaq Qadri he talks about the various issues faced by traders.

Kashmir Life: After taking over as president of KTMF what are your priorities?
Muhammad Yasin Khan: My priorities are to look into the problems faced by the traders community. There is also a need to educate the traders who are mostly illiterate.  

KL:  Trade in Kashmir is highly divided. We have KCCI, FCIK and KTMF as well. Why so many organisations?
YK:  KCCI represents the majority of export businesses from Kashmir. FCIK represents the industrial part and so far as KTMF is concerned, we represent general trade. So there is nothing divided in the trade. These are all apex bodies of their own trades.

KL: What are the major problems faced by trader community in valley?
YK: The major problem is in our dealing with the commercial tax department. Recently they have come up with a tax return form which has six pages. Previously it was only one page.

The change was imposed on us, and we were not consulted at all. It should have been done only after taking us in to consideration so that we would have suggested some changes.

VAT is another major issue. Other issues which are important for us these days are road widening and rehabilitation of trade community dislocated by the government besides the (lack of) unity in trade community.

KL: Your recommendations are not being fulfilled by the government. What are you doing in this regard?
YK: None of the requirement is being fulfilled by the government. We look towards the government and they are giving assurances. Let Durbar (secretariat) come over here (after biannual move) we will talk again with government and pressurize them to fill the promises.

KL: Kashmir is a big consumer market in North India. But how is Jammu collecting more tax?
YK: Before 1989 every company whether multi-national or Indian had C&F and head offices in valley. After that they shifted their offices to Jammu. This is why Jammu is collecting more tax than valley.  

But you must also see that it is the valley which is actually paying 70 percent of total tax paid by the state. This has also been mentioned by the honourable finance minister in the state assembly.

KL:  As you said most of the MNCs have warehousing, C&F agents in Jammu. Are you doing anything to change this?
YK: We are talking with the government. In pre-budget session we had discussion with the Finance Minister. On 5th April, 2011 we had public meeting with Chief Minister. We apprised him about our concerns and he assured us that in due course of time the companies will come back to valley. Few of them particularly FMCG and pharmaceutical companies are already back.

KL:  Recently a Police-Traders Meet was organised in SKICC. What exactly was it organised for?
YK: We have grievances with the police like bunkers in market places. There are so many disputes with some of the police stations and police officers. They have given us assurance and also promised to meet us again and again.

KL:  You helped pacify the situation in Maisuma. How did you do that?
YK: I am not a politician. My concern is with business. I want that trade should run smoothly in the valley. In Maisuma we tried our level best that normal trade should resume. My trader brothers in the area were suffering. We requested politicians, people and government. If we see overall in valley the biggest sufferers are the business community be it in Tourism, Hospitality or shopkeepers.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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