The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday said that the implementation of GST in the State of Jammu and Kashmir has crippled the handicrafts tourism and industry sectors of the state.
Quoting Nasir Hamid Khan, Senior Vice President, KCC&I the spokesman stated that the KCC&I, along with a majority of other stakeholders, had opposed the implementation of the law primarily on the ground that is would dilute the unique constitutional status and autonomy the State of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed. The impact has crippled our Handicrafts, Tourism and Industry sectors. The refunds to industries are lingered on for months together on one pretext or the other.
In its report given in 2018, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had also raised red flags over the implementation of GST on Tourist related activities. It has recommended that it “must be reconsidered” and done in a cautious manner in order to ensure that the delicate state of the tourism sector should not be adversely affected.
The report had further underlined the sensitive nature of our State and stated that the implementation of GST on Tourism would have “manifold effects, mostly negative, on the economy in the Region’.
Earlier recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s on the need for capping airfares has also been ignored by the Union Government. The KCC&I has been demanding bringing air travel under the Essential Services Act of the State in view of the frequent closure of the only road link to Kashmir. Although the Ministry of Civil Aviation, under the UDAN Scheme for the promotion of regional connectivity for making flying affordable, proposes 30-minute flight to cost only Rs 1,200/-, the citizens of our State are being forced to pay more than Rs 20,000 for the same distances.
In addition, in the past three weeks, a sinister campaign targeting the tourism sector has been started on the social media and sections of the electronic and print media. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & industry in consultation with other tourism players would be constituting a joint team for visiting friendly domestic tourism markets and interacting with our counterparts.
The Government on its part needs to sort out connectivity, infrastructural and taxation issues which are proving to be the biggest impediments in our growth.
The Government is on the record about the stressed condition of our economy from losses suffered from 2014 onwards. Various policy measures announced with much fanfare to support the business community by earlier Governments have not been acted upon. They stand shelved, modified and diluted.
As a result of the above factors, the stress on various sectors of our economy, especially tourism, handicrafts and industry, has reached a critical breaking point. There is an immediate need for all stakeholders to put in serious and effective efforts in a salvage operation. The sinister attempt to target our tourism and handicraft sector by goons and hooligans is condemnable and deserves a strong response.