The newly elected Executive Body of the Kashmir Chamber for Commerce and Industry (KCCI) called on National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah at NC Head Office, ‘Nawa-e-Subha’ in Srinagar on Tuesday and highlighted various systemic issues and challenges confronting the Valley’s business and traders’ community.
The KCCI Executive Body delegation comprised of Senior Vice President Nasir Hamid Khan, Secretary General Dr Gazalla Amin, Joint Secretary General Muzaffar Majid Jan, Treasurer Sheikh Imran Ahmed and Executive Committee Members Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed, Syed Masood A Shah, Ashfaq Siddiq Dug, Manzoor Ahmed Pakhtoon, Parvez Ahmed Bhat, Asif Siddiq, Farooq Amin, Chaudhary Muhammad Shahid, Sheikh Gowhar Ali, Adil Hussain, Fayaz Ahmed and Omar Trumboo.
The KCCI Executive Body highlighted the challenges brought about by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the State and also briefed the NC Working President about the general economic slowdown that had severely impacted the business community. The KCCI delegation also highlighted the unprecedented slowdown and recession in the Tourism Sector which is the backbone of the State’s Economy and said the State’s Economy was suffering due to the lack of a well-defined industrial and power-sector policy while underperforming or sick Public Sector Units (PSUs) had become white elephants incurring enormous negative costs on the State exchequer and consequently burdening the State’s Economy.
The KCCI Executive Body also discussed various sector specific challenges especially in the manufacturing, handicrafts, handlooms, retail and tourism sectors and said there was an urgent and pressing need for initiatives which would come to the rescue of entrepreneurs, artisans and businesses that are operating in adverse economic circumstances since 2014 due to successive unproductive years.
Speaking on the occasion, Omar Abdullah congratulated the newly elected august body of the Chamber and exuded hope in their mission to serve the interests of the business community. Omar Abdullah highlighted the deep and historic association between the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and National Conference starting with Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and having been strengthened ever since.
“As a representative body of the business and traders’ community, it is your right, responsibility and duty to represent and highlight the issues and grievances of the business community in the Valley while striving for effective and sustainable solutions. Government should be open to your inputs and suggestions and incorporate them in policy decisions as you are the primary economic stakeholders in the State’s journey towards progress and growth. The business community has faced successive challenges in the past few years due to the 2014 floods, then the demonetisation issue and that was eventually compounded by the implementation of GST in the State and the unrest of 2016. I salute the heroic valour and diligence of the business community in showing courage and resilience in the face of such adversity and especially since the required relief wasn’t provided”, the NC Working President said.
The NC Working President said the State Government had gotten into a habit of giving false assurances that it could not and cannot implement. “It was this Government that criticized the 44,000 crore flood relief package that the previous NC-led Government had proposed to the Central Government that consisted of specific relief measures including comprehensive debt relief and compensation. After criticizing that proposal, this State Government failed to get even a rudimentary flood relief package approved by the Central Government as a result of which the State in general and the business community in particular suffered enormous losses. More recently, assurances were given to the business community and artisans that the paralyzing affects of the implementation of GST in the State would be negated by alleged ‘budgetary provisions’ and ‘reimbursements’. One wonders where these ‘budgetary provisions’ and ‘reimbursements’ are and even if they can possibly exist in the first place? The fact of the matter is that the disastrous decision of implementing the Central GST in the State has disempowered the State Government and its Legislature in matters of taxation and all such matters are now under the exclusive domain and purview of the Central GST Council. The State Government should desist from giving assurances that it cannot follow up on. Any attempt to mislead the people would further compound the issue of economic slowdown and stagnation in the State”, Omar Abdullah added.
“The State Government should now at least try to make the best out of a bad situation of their own making and do something to give relief and reprieve to the business community by taking up these issues in the Central GST Council. Our artisans and workers in the handicrafts sector are facing unimaginable hardships and it is the duty of the State Government to ensure this injustice ends without any further delay”, the NC Working President said.
The National Conference Working President assured the KCCI Executive Body that National Conference would continue to highlight all issues of the business community and seek their redressal. On this occasion the NC Working President also announced that the Party would nominate a Senior Party Committee to specifically engage with the KCCI and the business community on a regular basis and especially before the start of the Budget Session so that the party can raise pertinent issues and seek specific policy interventions as per the actual requirements of the business community.