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Govt mulls creation of ‘Brand Fund’: Drabu

Jammu and Kashmir Bank

SRINAGAR, MAY 21- Ahead of the Budget Session 2016-17, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, Saturday held a series of meetings with the representatives of businesses bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.   

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) urged the Finance Minister that the government must do away with the provisions in New Industrial Policy under which the land can be allotted to non-state subjects. 

KCCI also expressed concern over the likely implementation of the new GST regime, which is awaiting nod of the Parliament, some components of the Flood Rehabilitation Package and streamlining of the Commercial Taxes Department.  

The Minister said the government will promote the industries in the state, which have taken a hit over the last three decades of turmoil, rather than relying on manufacturers from outside. 

The Minister said the government is also contemplating shifting of toll plaza for Kashmir bound trucks from Lakhanpur to Lower Munda which will ease the businesses operating in the Valley.

The KCCI delegation also urged the Minister that the new budget should focus on Handicrafts, Horticulture, Food Processing Industry and Tourism which form the backbone of the state's economy. 

The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) urged the Minister to remove SRO 105/117 (Dated 31-03-2015) which charges 12 percent tax from the advertising agencies.  

Dr Drabu gave them a patient hearing and assured them that their genuine concerns will be incorporated in the budget.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) apprised the Finance Minister about the problems faced by the hotel industry following the September 2014 floods.

The industry leaders claimed that many uninsured hotels were damaged during the floods with the hotel industry alone suffering losses of more than Rs 100 crore. They urged the Finance Minister to continue with the waiver of 12 percent service tax on lodging in the next budget.

Dr Drabu said the hoteliers in the Valley must modernize the infrastructure to attract top-end tourists. He said the state government has announced interest subvention for all traders, including hoteliers, who were affected by the deluge.

"Five percent interest subvention with highest cap of Rs 5 lakh tax on loan amount has been announced for a period of one year since the floods hit the state," he said.   

A delegation of J&K Information and Communication Technology Association also briefed the minister about the problems faced by the IT entrepreneurs in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Highlighting a series of measures envisaged by the state government for promotion of IT industry, they urged the Finance Minister to push these initiatives and set aside some funds for the promotion of the industry.

Dr Drabu told the delegation to come up with a plan for business development and market intelligence which will promote the industry, "The government will rather promote IT in businesses rather than promoting IT alone," Dr Drabu said.

The Finance Minister said the government is contemplating to set up an IT Park and the creation of a 'Brand Fund' which will enable the government to invest through PPP mode in some of the IT companies.

"There will be institutionalization of the promotion of IT industry but we first need to look at the functioning of the IT department. Every government department should have an IT cell which will automatically promote the industry," he said. 

A delegation of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) apprised the minister about the problems faced by industry owners while doing business with the government. 

The meetings were attended by Commissioner/Secretary, Finance, Navin K Choudhary, and other officers of the finance department. 


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