Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu today said the Government would focus on consolidating the fiscal management initiatives outlined in the previous budget and setting off new reformative measures to ensure effective utilization of the resources.
The Finance Minister was speaking during a series of pre-budget consultations with the representatives of various business and trade organizations and other stakeholders here today.
Dr Drabu said the pre-budget interactions are vital for receiving inputs, suggestions and to know the expectations of the stakeholders from the budget. He further said he expects that the inputs provided by the stakeholders would help in Budget formulation and improving the policy management of financial system.
Commissioner Secretary, Finance, Navin Kumar Choudhary, Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, P I Khateeb, Excise Commissioner, Tsering Angchok, Additional Commissioners Commercial Taxes, Jammu & Kashmir and other senior officers were present in the meetings.
During the meeting, various suggestions and inputs were received from representatives of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Jammu, Transporters Association Jammu, Federation of Industries Jammu, Hoteliers Association Jammu, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Institute of Public Opinion, Intellectuals, Academicians, Tax Bar Association, Traders Federation, Agriculturalists, Fruit Growers Association Jammu, Poultry Farmers and Tourism Federation Jammu.
The representatives of Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCI), suggested for amnesty on account of faults in classification in VAT Act. They also asked for exemption of Service Tax on games zone. They asked for bringing power tariff for the hotels and service industry at par with industrial tariff and amnesty on old recoveries wherein interest and penalty be waived off as one time settlement.
CCI asked for the extending the amnesty on commercial power as was done for the domestic consumers. They also requested for no further enhancement in Toll taxes. Another issue raised by CCI was granting freehold rights for industrial units with certain conditions. CCI president also asked for having purchase preference rather than price preference in order to help local manufacturers. They also demanded a review of the Negative List of industrial units for VAT remission and amnesty in labour laws. CCI also requested for continuation of all incentives available to the units during existing regime after implementation of GST Act.
The Finance Minister said that as we are moving towards the regime of GST, it’s necessary to be well versed with the GST law. He asked the CCI to attend training programme on GST being provided by the government to have deep understanding of it. Dr Drabu also assured them that he will look into the issue of negative list of units.
The Transporters Association also presented various demands before the Minister and demanded that the there should be a smooth movement of goods carrier at Lakhanpur and there should be the distinction between dealers and transporters in case of penalty on goods. They also demanded upgradation of Transport Nagar Narwal.
Dr Drabu said the department would work on the mechanism to provide ease to the transporters in paying the penalty at Lakhanpur.
Federation of Industries Jammu while presenting their demands said that some incentives should be provided to the industries to recover their losses due to the turmoil in valley which adversely have affected their production. They asked for fiscal incentives to industrial sector and extension of other incentives under GST regime.
Federation also requested for removal of items from the negative lists for industrial sector for VAT remission and exemption of additional toll tax, amnesty on closed units power bills, one time amnesty to exempt Industrial sector from penal interest for the non submission of C Forms for inter-state sale. The Federation thanked the government for implementing the decision for 24X7 clearance of goods at Lakhanpur with Green Channel resulting in great relief to the Industrial units.
The Federation of Industries demanded for imposition of toll tax on import of Wheat Bran from outside the state in order to save local Small Scale Industrial Units engaged in manufacture of wheat bran from incurring huge losses. The Finance Minister asked for the recommendations on Price Band to further help them during implementation of GST regime. He also asked them to register for training programmes on GST Law to get familiar with the things related to it.
Hotelier Association Jammu while presenting their demands said the hotels and restaurants under tourism have been declared as an industry and should be allowed to avail various benefits at par with Industrial sector. They also asked for soft loans to tourism industry for renovation and upgradation of hotels. The members of the association requested for rationalization of taxes on liquor in the state.
They demanded for a Task Force to be constituted to monitor the pace of the works on Mega Projects related to the tourism Industry in Jammu and all the works should be expedited. The association also requested for issuing licenses for Casino, Disco and Beer Bar facility for the tourists on the pattern of Goa, Chandigarh and other places. To promote Pilgrim tourism, they asked for developing Ambaran in Akhnoor as a Buddhist Tourist place. They requested for utilizing funds of all religious boards for promotion and development of tourism industry.
The Association thanked the government for reducing VAT on food from 13 to 5 percent and waiving off of service tax on hotels and lodges.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) highlighted the concerns of the Industry. They requested for a separate single window clearance agency for MSME, functioning of Lakhanpur toll post round the clock with introduction of POS machines to avoid payment in cash, opening of hospitals and schools in industrial belts of the state, cluster approach with specific master plan for MSMEs. CII also proposed launch of Chief Minister Start-Up Scheme to provide single window support to potential entrepreneurs, relaxation in various State-specific taxes for the start-ups.
CII also requested to take steps against proliferation of counterfeit and substandard products from neighboring states damaging the local industry as also availing the incentives.
The memorandum presented also included recommendations on the sectors including Transport & Infrastructure, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship Development, Agro & Food Processing, Tourism, skill development, encouragement of Water Management & Harvesting and Agriculture Insurance.
PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry also shared suggestions with regard to introducing zero tax budget, accelerated expenditure to channelize money into the economy and the government efforts in facilitating Public Private Partnership ventures.
Institute of Public Opinion, citing reasons like brain drain and lack of participation in entrepreneurial ventures, urged the Minister to make provisions in the budget to provide a congenial environment for SSIs and MSMEs. They also urged for special allocations in the budget for the people-oriented projects.
Intellectuals and academicians while discussing the proposals said that there is an urgent need for setting up of centre for study of J&K economy to fill the gaps in socio-economic data. They also called for bringing rural infra at par with the urban infra to reduce the migration of people. They also suggested for bringing vehicle registration fee at par with other states to augment revenue generation and ensure better implementation of traffic regulations.
The Minister urged them to initiate a research cum database development project with the involvement of financial and social institutions and the Universities to help the government for extending the scope and ambit of the economic survey.
Chamber of Traders Federation (CTF) asked for improved relations between traders and government for facilitating voluntary compliance. They also proposed new markets, mandis in addition to the existing ones in the context of latest demographic changes.
For successful implementation of GST in the state, CTF urged the government to introduce facilitation centers for awareness generation and training of traders. The CTF also urged the Minister to broaden the tax base and bring unorganized markets under the aegis of taxation policy.
Fruit Mandi Association requested for VAT refund cases to be expedited and sought cooperation of the government for reviving walnut industry.
The Minister asked for specific recommendations that can be included in the budget for benefit of the people involved in the walnut trade.
Jammu Poultry Association raised various issues including integrating farming, illegal trade, trade of dress meat by illegal means, toll tax exemption, development of technical facilities besides day to day rate fixing of chicken meat. The association said that the poultry farming is an allied concern of agriculture industry thereby it should be given a status as agriculture industry and benefits at par with it.
Tourism Federation Jammu asked for special budgetary provision for assistance in organizing education/training for tour operators, assistance for promotion, publicity and marketing, extension of pre-existing package including subsidy on transport and adventure sports. They also requested that the tourism development infra projects should be expedited.