delegation of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Inc) led by its President Mr. Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed held an interactive meeting with Mr. Vivek Bhardwaj, Additional Chief Secretary Industries & Commerce, Jammu & Kashmir on 19th of July, 2022 At Civil Secretariat ,Srinagar.
The delegation highlighted the following issues related to the business community and the same were discussed in detail.
- AIR CONNECTIVITY:-
Ø Direct Flight from Srinagar International Airport to Sharjah/ Dubai.
As we appreciate the step for operating direct flights from Srinagar International Airport to Sharjah/ Dubai. But due to unknown reasons the service was stopped. We request your goodself to kindly look into the matter and restore this flight at least once a week. We feel that Sharjah/Dubai is an important hub for business sector from J&K .
Direct Flight from Srinagar International Airport to Jeddah for Umrah and Hajj Pilgrims of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
We would like to draw your kind attention that the number of Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from J&K is increasing day by day. The Umrah Groups are conducted by various tour operators who arrange their travel through various Airlines. These airlines operate via Delhi which is reported, does not suit the pilgrims because it adds to the travelling time and also becomes more often inconvenient for them to change the aircraft. The pilgrims would however feel it more convenient to fly from Srinagar to Jeddah directly.
Ø Shri Piyesh Goyal, Hon’ble Minister for Textiles, Industries & Commerce on his visit to Srinagar on 18th of October, 2021 announced setting up of Carpet Village as a demonstration centre of the local craft to visiting tourists and also promote the local Carpet Industry globally. We request your goodself to direct the concerned officials for immediate implementation of this announcement. This Carpet Village should be installed with all Common Facility Centers wherein Design Development, Dying, Washing, Bank Facilities, Packing. To promote this Carpet Village wherein Carpet Manufacturers/ Exporters will come out with the new innovations and designs to cater the International Market.
Ø Exporters are facing lot of challenges and difficulties as regard to exports from Kashmir region is concerned. As we are at the fag end of India without logistic support as still we have no dry port with the result export goods reach Delhi with higher fare rates resulting losing the competition at international level. So freight subsidies be given to exporters from Jammu & Kashmir as they can’t compete.
With others who are close to ports. Kashmir has a geographical disadvantage in logistics in respect of road transport. In order to increase export and make our products competitive in the international market, there is need to subsidize freight both air and road.
Ø State and Centre Government must come up with the attractive schemes so that our entrepreneurs / new educated / unemployed youth will attract towards this Export Industry.
Ø All handmade items should be exempted from taxes like GST. To preserve the livelihood of Weavers, Artisans, Traders, and Exporters who are involved in handmade Handicraft and also the famous art of Cottage Industry, the GST must be waived off on Pashmina Shawls, Carpets, Papier Machie, Crewel, Chain Stitch and Wood Carving.
Those Silk Carpets which contains more than 60% silk should be given 7% refund under RODTEP Scheme to encourage and boost Silk Handmade Carpets in Kashmir.
Ø There should be a separate ITC (HS) code for Pashmina Shawls and verified by the competent testing laboratory. No capping should be placed on Pashmina Shawls or other value added handicraft items under RODTEP Scheme.
Ø Government should give all the benefits to Kashmir Handicrafts and declare it as Special Economic Zone.
Ø Warehousing Facility at International Airport.
Ø Self Help Group Scheme cases is pending in Handicraft Department. It is requested to release the funds as soon as possible.
Ø The Department connected with the Exporters such as Banks, ECGC, DGFT need to provide the regular required awareness to the exporters.
Ø 100% Waiver off on Artisan Credit Card
Ø Government must give support to the present manufacturer / exporter to sustain in this present turmoil as most of the accounts are either stressed or turned NPA’s.
Ø The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has felt the need of having Expo Marts for Handicrafts products and Carpets were we can Exhibit our products to International Buyers.
Ø Inland Container Depo in Kashmir will be created which will help our exporters to export directly from Srinagar and increase the products which we are exporting not only but also the volume of present export.
Ø The Handicraft sector of Kashmir could receive a huge boost if the Central Government would reserve a minor percentage of Central Government purchases as well as urge other State Governments through out the Country for purchases of Kashmiri Handicrafts products including Shawls and Silk Handmade Carpets, office furniture and interiors , stationery, etc. there is a little hope for this traditional sector of ours than the Government adopting Brand Kashmir.
This would also greatly support the liquidation of huge pile up of inventory in this sector for which the KCC&I has also pushed for special funding to the tune of 500 Crores.
Ø The time was given for the Permanent Registration of Units is 30th June, 2022. It is requested to extend the time till 31st March, 2023 keeping in view the situation and condition what was happening since past. Who so ever has started construction should get extension for permanent registration
Ø Providing of Working Capital at concessional interest rates, waiver of interest for the period of lockdown, reschedulement of repayment plans, lowering of power tariff and waiver/reduction of fixed demand charges, reduction of rental charges payable to SICOP/SIDCO are urgently required to provide sustenance to the local industries.
Ø Local industries supplying to the Government have reportedly a substantial amount of their capital locked up due to inordinate delays in the release of their payments. The KCC&I requests that the mechanism be devised for automatic time bound release of payments by the Government.
Ø Electricity demand and surcharges waive off.
Ø Price preference for local on Government purchases.
Ø New Industrial policy benefits be extended for existing Industry like Interest Subsidy on Working Capital and Term Loans.
Ø Link Up of local industries with Defence and other departmental supplies.
BANKING & FINANCE:-
Ø The overall losses incurred over the years have resulted in an unprecedented level of stress on the working capital and finances of the local business establishments. Though there have been several interventions by the Government for extending support but the continuous cycle of disruptions has failed their objectives.
Ø Incase of OTS which was announced by J&K Bank for 15 to 5 crore and Karz Mukht Scheme which was widely appreciated by KCCI and all other business organisations with the result bank got more than 50 crores and we have requested that the offer should be given from 5 crore to 30-50 crores / MSME so that the account holders can settle the amount and revive businesses.
Ø In the case of self-financed business establishments having no bank exposure, It is suggested a suitable capital infusion for such establishments on softer interest rates be made available.
GST reimbursement for the amount paid by the MSME sector is delayed inordinately and needs to be released in the time bound manner as committed by the government. GST penalties for the period of Covid -19 should be waived off so that they can work properly and engage more people for work.
HOTELS /GUEST HOUSES/ RESTAURANTS/ CAFES :-
Ø Land lease needs to be extended at Pahalgam and Gulmarg as the owners have suffered huge losses due to unavoidable circumstances.
Ø This sector has faced huge expenditure on account of taxes and fee being charged at higher Commercial rates as in Water Charges, Interest in loans, Sanitation Fee, Electricity Charges Licence Fee, Rent, staff salary. In the absence of any business especially in the Tourism sector it is suggested that all the taxes and rates payable to the government may be waived off, reduced or deferred as the Committee may deem appropriate.
TOURIST TAXI OPERATORS:-
Ø Bank Loan upto Rs. 3.00 lacs be waived off.
Ø New Commercial Taxi permits to be issued in favour of tour operators and taxi operators.
Ø Hiring / entanglement of local transport services for official and Departmental use.
Ø Creation of designated taxi stands at important health installations like hospitals and nursing homes.
HOUSEBOAT / SHIKARAS:
Ø Appropriate rehabilitation scheme for house boat owners willing to surrender their licenses and already who have submitted their licenses are still under process need to rehabilitate on priority basis.
- GENERAL TRADE:-
Ø Due to the thirteen months of a continuous lockdown and for reasons elaborated upon by us in our earlier communications the current situation of our business community is critical and there the need for amending of various guidelines and deadlines with regard to filing of taxation returns and submission of taxes.
Ø The situation is such which may not have been envisaged in the general guidelines of the GST policy, Company Affairs, CBDT and the RBI. As a result there is an imminent build-up of penalties along with interest chargeable on the dealers who have, in many cases, lost their capacity to even pay the principal tax amounts. This is a cause of concern for all of us and there is huge stress on the business community.
Ø Even in the situation emerging after August, 2019, The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has throughout made all efforts to ensure compliance by our dealers through public awareness messages and support the Government in collection of various taxes. There has been close coordination with the Department of Finance during this period.
. YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS:-
Ø CGTMSME scheme is not on ground and the scheme is not followed by any Financial Institution
Ø There is a Scheme that up to Rs. 25 Lakh no mortgage is required but Bank has not followed that they are still asking for mortgage. Financial package announced by the government there is MSME scheme that upto Rs. 1Crore no mortgage is required but this scheme is also not followed by the financial institution.
Ø Rs. 300 Crore fund is with Development Financial Corporation (DFC) but the negative response of the department no one avail that funds.
Ø The schemes of Khadi Village Industrial Board (KVIB) is only for rural areas. It should be also for urban area. The slab of the schemes is 25 lakh it should be raised up to Rs1 crore.
Ø There are so many formalities so we request for single window clearance.
Ø Most of the young entrepreneurs want to do retail, service, online business for that we request Government that the shopping malls Like SDA Auqaf Markets or any other market places should be given to youth on priority on rental basis.
- Representation of KCC&I in all Board of Directors of Government of J&K like SIDCO, SIPCOP etc.
- The President also discussed about the 10 percent incentive given to the exporters that will help facing the losses due to decline in the industry. We request the administration to release the said incentives at urgent basis.
The delegation thanked Mr. Vivek Bhardwaj for his patient hearing to the delegation and considering the issues favourably. Mr. Vivek Bhardwaj assured the delegation that due attention shall be given to the demands made by the delegation.