JAMMU, Dec 04:Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Commissioner Finance Naveen Choudhary managed aggressive steps to take things further ahead in Jammu & Kashmir. The 10 key sectors have been identified for rapid infrastructure upgradation in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, a path-breaking policy framework approved by the State cabinet earlier this week.
“To cope up with infrastructure deficit in crucial sectors like housing, public utilities, healthcare, roads, tourism, technical education, sports, commercial establishments, horticulture and animal husbandry, the Government has decided to adopt the PPP mode for time-bound asset creation in these sectors,” Dr Haseeb Drabu, Minister for Finance, Labour, Employment and Culture said at a press conference here this morning.
While Naveen Choudhary was in Srinagar for official work told Cross Town News telephonically that more dynamic decisions will be taken by Finance department in coming days which will be people and state centric.When on being asked about how his experience at Financial Institution in USA is coming to help, he said that he can absorb highest of pressure thus helping him in taking the concrete decisions which are futrure and development centric.
While Dr Drabu said in the housing sector, new projects will be taken up for execution under PPP mode at Rakh-e-Arth, Jawhar Nagar and Gandhi Nagar. In roads sector, he said, the projects to be taken up under PPP mode include Sonwar-Gallandar road, Chatroo-Vailoo Tunnel, Mughal Road Tunnel and inter-district roads.
In tourism sector the PPP projects include upgradation of infrastructure at Ranjit Sagar Dam and Doodhpathri. In sports, he said two Sports Cities, one each at Jammu and Srinagar would be setup under PPP mode besides construction of world class sports stadiums. In health sector, he said PPP mode would involve setting up state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities at government hospitals. In horticulture sector, he said high-density plantation would be promoted through PPP mode and in technical education skill development institutions would be established under the new initiative. He said commercial projects, multi-level parking facilities and solid waste management would be also covered under PPP.
Enumerating the broader policy framework of the PPP mode, Dr Drabu said PPP is a funding and operational model for public infrastructure projects requiring large finance. He said the line departments would identify and have ownership of such projects. “Concurrence of Finance and Planning & Development Departments would be a prerequisite before bidding for the projects under PPP mode,” he said and added that all PPP projects shall have to follow approved models and guidelines and will be implemented only after the approval of the state cabinet.
ON SKILL DEVELOPMENT
The Minister said under Skill Development Mission, Government is targeting three segments of population including educated unemployed, uneducated unemployed and practicing artisans to achieve the objective of creating and managing skill based enterprises in the state.
“Based on unique attributes of J&K, the skill requirements of the state can be classified into broad categories of heritage industry skills including handicrafts, papier machie, shawl making, khatamband, Basohli crafts etc, traditional trades like masonry, plumbing, carpentry, electrician, painting etc, modern trades like call centres, boutiques, secretarial services etc and agriculture based skill enterprise like farm management, pruning, food processing etc,” he said.
Dr Drabu said that for skill building no new infrastructure would be created and existing infrastructure in Employment, Technical and School Education Departments would be used. He said District Employment & Career Counseling Centers, ITIs and autonomous institutions like J&K Board of Construction and Other Workers, Building Centers, RSETI, JKEDI, Craft Development Institute, Institute of Hotel Management etc would be used for implementation of Skill Development Mission.
Elaborating on skill building, Dr Drabu said the Government is also looking forward to impart specific skills through ITIs by roping in Private Partners. He said each ITI will specialize in imparting a particular set of skills. “For instance one ITI can be identified for imparting specialized training in telecom technology. Similarly, another one can be identified for imparting training in banking, financial services and insurance with probable private partners like Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone, Aircel and J&K Bank and an ITI in Doda shall focus on hydropower industry with JP Associates as probable private partner,” he said.
He said the District Employment Centres will also act as skill centers with specific focus on a particular sector in each district like Trade & Tourism in Srinagar, Baramulla, Jammu and Katra, Transport, Storage & Communication in Anantnag, Kupwara, Udhampur and Samba, Small and Medium Scale Industries in Samba and Kathua, Handicrafts and Handloom in Srinagar, Leh, Kargil and Kathua.
Dr Drabu further added that skill upgradation through autonomous institutions will include carpentry, masonry, scaffolding through J&K Board of Construction and other Workers, Financial Services through RSETI, small business ventures through JKEDI etc.
Explaining the overall structure of the Skill Development Mission, Dr Drabu said that it will be headed by Chief Minister as its Chairman. There will be coordination departments like Technical Education and associated departments including Industry, Labour & Employment, Tourism, Education, Health and Horticulture.
ON FINANCIAL AUTONMY TO UNIVERSITIES
Speaking on another major decision of the Government related to financial autonomy to the Universities, Dr Drabu said the Finance Department will give an annual block grant to each university in the State which will fund salary, pension, pensioner benefits of the sanctioned faculty and administrative staff. He added that along with this, there will be provision for a 10% increase in this grant every year.
He said the Universities will be free to decide how to spend the allocated money based on its own internal allocation mechanism and according to what it intends to achieve. He added that the block grant will be channeled through a buffer body like Finance Committee, Syndicate and the University Council and not through the administrative department. The University will decide the amount of tuition fees, besides the Universities have also been allowed to retain all internally generated resources through paid courses, collection of fees and forms, etc.
He said the universities have also been allowed to generate and retain funding from sources other than the government and to allocate the same independently. He said Universities have to appoint independent statutory auditors to audit their accounts every year and the audit reports of annual accounts both by internal and external auditors shall be placed before the University Council. He said the Council shall approve their budget based on the block grants received from the Government as well as internally and externally generated resources.
He said the University Council shall approve their budget based on the block grants received from the Government as well as internally and externally generated resources
ON IMPLEMENTATION OF GST REGIME
Responding to a question regarding the implementation of GST regime in the State, Dr Drabu said while it is a good and hassle-free tax regime and would help J&K boost its revenues, the State Government has to ensure adequate constitutional safeguards before going ahead with the implementation of the new regime. He said the two other issues that need to be taken care of before the implementation of GST regime in the State include continuation of various exemptions for the industry in J&K, as there is no provision of exemptions in the GST regime and the State’s special powers to levy tax on services.