Industry Leaders Say Kashmir’s Manufacturing Sector Is Sinking Fast

SRINAGAR: The industrial fraternity in Kashmir has decided to launch a united fight against anti-industry policies and orders with all the force and might at its disposal to save the existing enterprises from imminent extinction, industry chieftains said after a day-long workshop in Srinagar.

Industry leaders at a seminar in Srinagar in which they gave vent to their feeling about the prevailing situation of Kashmir’s manufacturing sector.

In this regard, they have asked FCIK to prepare a roadmap within the shortest possible time to take up and discuss their issues at every available forum.

The decision was taken at a daylong workshop on Industrial distress and gloomy response from authorities organised by Kashmir Small Scale Industries Association (KSSIA) at Industrial Estate Baghi Ali Mardan Khan, which was attended by President FCIK Shahid Kamili and representatives of industry from across the valley.

“While deliberating upon the unprecedented conditions created and being created on daily basis for the existing industrial enterprises for past over two years, the participants blamed the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir for putting the existing industrial sector on terminal sedation instead of looking for required cure and treatment for its disease,” the statement issued after the workshop said.

The speakers regretted the confusion prevailing in current industrial policy which has caused anxiety among entrepreneurs. “Instead of removing these confusions, the authorities come out with fresh confusions by issuing newer orders, they said adding that one such order was regarding change of constitution that was full of complexities,” the statement added.

The speakers expressed concern over the falling industrial output and production owing to lower demand, change in procurement policy and liquidity crunch. They informed that more than half of the industrial units were established in Jammu and Kashmir to cater to the demands of the government and all of these have been rendered workless after the government has engaged in procuring its requirements from outside enterprises through GeM portal.

“This is contrary to the provisions of price and purchase preference made in the industrial policy besides many more exemptions afforded as cost equalisers in lieu of operating under difficult conditions”, explained the speakers. With abolishing of toll tax and entry tax, the outside manufacturers have been facilitated to move their products freely into Kashmir making it difficult for the local manufacturers to compete with them. The liquidity crunch has also impacted industrial production as hundreds of crores of payments due to the entrepreneurs against supplies made and work done years back are withheld.

While cautioning against the growing labour retrenchments, the Presidents of various estates informed that in the past two years 40 per cent of the employees on an average in the organised sector have been cut back by the employers. They feared the greater number of such retrenchments in the unorganised sector where the data is being collected.

The workshop also discussed the lackadaisical approach for revival and rehabilitation of sick units whose number is growing with each passing day. The experts suggested that by the end of the current fiscal, the NPAs in banks in Jammu and Kashmir may increase several times than at present.

They expressed concern that the banks in Jammu and Kashmir have adopted a different and discriminatory yardstick to restructure and settle the accounts under OTS. It was informed that the average haircut being offered to the NPAs pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir units is a mere 10 per cent as against 42 per cent settled on the accounts of outsiders by the same banks. They also complained of charging a higher rate of interest from the local enterprises than outsiders.

Speaking on the occasion, President FCIK Shahid Kamili admitted that the industry in Kashmir was passing through a difficult situation and authorities show little interest in mitigating their genuine problems. “Although it is known to everyone that FCIK is the only representative apex organisation of industrial units and associations in Kashmir, yet efforts are being created to sideline it from decision-making committees and boards under “divide and rule policy”. He sought cooperation from all Presidents of various estates, districts and lines of activities in the fight for the rights of existing units. President also gave an overview of the working of FCIK during the past one year.

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