L-G announces Rs 1,350 cr economic package for J&K

Jammu & Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday announced a Rs 1,350 cr economic package for the business sector and a 50% rebate on electricity and water bills for a year for all sectors in the Union territory.

“I have met almost 35 delegations from various sectors… a committee was framed which was headed by my advisor KK Sharma. The committee submitted its report on time…on the recommendations of the committee, the package [has been announced]…” said Sinha. “This is a beginning and more things are in the offing.”

Also read: J-K govt forms committees for panchayat, block development council bypolls

Sinha’s announcement comes as businesses in the region are reeling under massive losses since August 2019 when a lockdown and communications blackout were imposed to prevent protests against the Centre’s move to divest Jammu & Kashmir of its special status and to split it into two Union territories. Mobile internet services continue to remain restricted in the region even as other restrictions have eased. Covid-19 and the lockdown imposed this summer to check its spread turned out to be a double whammy for the businesses. Restrictions on mobile internet have hurt e-commerce that has gained elsewhere in the world during the pandemic.

Sinha said the package is apart from the Rs 1,400 crore announced for Jammu & Kashmir under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign). He said a separate package will be announced for transporters, taxi-drivers, autorickshaw drivers, houseboat and shikara owners who have faced problems. He added there will be stamp duty exemption till March 2021 for all borrowers. “From October 1, Jammu & Kashmir Bank will set up special desks for young people.”

Sinha said the 50% rebate on electricity and water bills for a year is going to all sectors including common households, businessmen, industrial unit holders, farmers and others. “…for this, the government will be spending 105 crores. This has been done for all,” Sinha said. He added the Centre is also working on a new industrial policy for Jammu & Kashmir.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Sheikh Ashiq said Sinha has kept his promise and announced the package and that the business community appreciates the gesture. “We are going through the components of the package. If there will be any shortcoming, we will again meet [Sinha]. We are really thankful.”

He cited Sinha’s promise for more help and said they are hopeful that these initiatives will be helpful for the business community.

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