Mubeen Ahmed Shah

(Former President KCCI, CEO, Alson Group of Companies and Kohimaran Group of Companies)

18199566_10155362211978324_1934379908260975778_nNotwithstanding whether the Governor Administration should present a formal budget or a Vote on Account, I will leave that decision to the politicians.

What we need is a sustainable fiscal environment consistent with equitable growth which unfortunately has not been achieved by our conflict ridden place right from 1947.

I would like to point out the issues which need to be tackled in such a way to truly reflect the intention of reviving our trade, commerce and industry to make it more self-sufficient and a direction which in subsequent years would make our economy not only self-reliant but forward looking as well as business friendly.

  • Model business village need to be set up with the concept of handicraft/ handloom village besides floriculture and pharmaceutical clusters particularly for the valley where almost every village is a potential place for this . Besides to give fillip to the floriculture and pharmaceutical industry model business villages could be set up in the hinterland with the respective process industry in the hinterland which will not only have better cash crops but also help in industrialization which will have a very less chances of failure. The villages being the basic model will ensure better income to the people living there and reduce the migration of people from villages to towns which are under tremendous pressure .
  • Each village, besides the above, need to be identified for its potential, for example, saffron in Pampore area, intense and hybrid plantation for horticulture for which specific villages selected and incentivized, sericulture which could be another important cash crop if the use of silk from silk cocoons is incentivized and used for carpet manufacturing and not the spun silk we presently use. The raring of sheep not only for its meat but for its wool and those types incentivized which could have wool of a high quality like cashmere in scotland while as continuation and incentivizing the Pashmina Goat in Kargil besides Ladakh as we need to understand that we import our raw pashmina wool from Mongolia or china more than what we produce in Ladakh.
  • The food processing units, particularly the cold storages, are needed in hundreds to cater to the loss which presently happens because of mismatch between the capacity of production and cold storage space and it is important that the budget should provide funds for viability gaps as well as initial investments as a part of equity for local entrepreneurs. This is the only model which will entice locals to put such units and which will with time get our such industry better money for the produce which has been proved with the units already set up and there may be also a need of reducing the power tariff for such units ( with even bettering the industrial rates applicable ) and make special dispensation as we understand that the cost of holding the produce for a long time may not be possible with high tariffs.
  • Our food processing has to go to the higher level by making products of higher value for example chocolates from milk and nuts or high value products from apple like apple chips .These industries need to be incentivized on a higher level than other industries so that we have products and industries which are more sustainable in tune with our produce as well as environment
  • The concept of creating an asset reconstruction company in partnership with JK Bank may be on paper the right model and a requirement under SARFAESI ACT but it brings to naught the effort of so many first time entrepreneurs whose only fault was that they put up these units in a conflict area which has been still not settled and my view has been clear that the revival can happen only if the units are supported by soft loan combined with JKDFC acting the institution of choice for revival as they can provide both term loan and working capital for these units.
  • Combining this with investment insurance particularly in the valley is the need of the hour .It may be important that the loans given in Kashmir are given under CGSTE which should be the norm and not an exception particularly when we have a conflict going on
  • The absence of funds to promote the BRAND KASHMIR across all sectors and particularly the handicraft and handloom sector is the need of the hour as it is the next step after we have got the geographical indication for some of the crafts particularly Pashmina. This is the important initiative which needs to be done as it will give us value addition to our world famous product and in turn will make our educated youth to go towards craft economy which is one of the biggest segment of the economy .
  • The setting up of power projects under the IPP mode has been a non-starter for locals because of the absence of financing to 90% and there was a need to have a venture capital fund for the same and besides that a creation of a local Power trading corporation as the problem in financing comes because of the fact that the selling and collection of dues is and will be problematic and needs to be streamlined and any unit in the private sector has only come up after they have been able to do a sale agreement with the Power trading corporation of India which may not be possible for smaller IPP(independent power producers). The initiative in regard to power sector is very very important to be done so that the shortage in power is solved by private initiative.
  • The J&K Bank has a Dastkar Finance scheme already in place for the artisans. The artisans as well as trade have been clamouring for it to make the product competitive besides giving the artisan enough time to hold his produce to get a good price which will not help our artisans to become independent but empowered also. The implementation of dastkar finance scheme is important to provide finance to the under-financed craft economy.

In the year 2016 the then finance minister had touched upon all commercial plantation crops, I propose to introduce a “loss of revenue insurance cover.

Unfortunately, this was not applied or else we would have seen the problem of our horticulture being decimated recently and we would have loved it to have for industry as well as trade which in other words would be investment insurance which is badly needed for a conflict economy and for which there is a dire need to secure the investments made by our businessmen and entrepreneurs so that they do not fall in a trap which was faced by a lot of them who had put up hotels, small scale units after 1975 when after the sheikh Indra accord local businesses had come forward to set up in quite a big way as per the economy of the state then. This would have truly give some hope as by this intervention an injustice previously faced by our businesses gets corrected. As suggested this needs to be done now as delay will continue to make our economy all the time vulnerable.

private public partnership although approved by the government lacks a modus operandi and it is important to make a comprehensive policy on it so that investors would know what to expect under this model. This would give an instrument for sustainable growth and is the only way ahead which has and is being promoted all over India and the world.

Private public partnership model of even the model of SWISS CHALLENGE

Although announced but no progress and no transparency with the result that even if private sector has given proposals the officers or departments have made them redundant by various ways .

Regional connection of our economy through trade with our old traditional markets is possible only by the advocacy by your government for declaring J&K as a FREE ECONOMIC ZONE and then connection with CPEC or else I do not see any possibility of these connections being revived .

It may be not out of place to mention that the J&K government lost an opportunity to make J&K as the shopping capital of INDIA if they would have had the power of imposing GST Rates on their own instead of the GST COUNCIL ( not withstanding the political ramifications we all know it has imposed on all of us of weakening the autonomous status of whatever was left we had with India ) which could have made us different than other states and has been the reason of development of places like Dubai and Singapore in their regions as they had practically zero import duties initially and now also have GST of a low rate with reduction of Income tax in case of Singapore while in case of Dubai GST is being imposed now with practically no Income tax at all .So in order to bring economy of ours on track J&K as a whole should be declared as a FREE

ECONOMIC ZONE which will not only put us in respect of trade in a different pedestal but also entice INDUSTRIES TO BE SET UP IN WHOLE OF J&K which we do not see happening in a big way in J&K and particularly in Kashmir

Sewerage and drainage :

The whole of Kashmir has no sewerage and drainage plans and we are sure that at any point of time there can be a environmental disaster particularly in the city of Srinagar.

Although the State Government has got funding from multi lateral agencies like Asian Development Bank but there are certain structural short coming in these projects.

I. Time taken for completion of these projects is very high resulting in cost-over-runs as well as facility being delayed.

II. The water treatment plants which has been set up in these area particularly for treatment of sewerage which goes to the Dal Lake have failed as there is hardly any difference between water going into the water treatment plants and water coming out of these plants particularly as they have not been able to remove the nitrogen and ammonia resulting in that Dal is continuing to suffer as a water body and there is no let up in the weed growth .LAWDA has to put its act together on a war footing and upgrade these treatment plants and have the best technology in any new plants besides these old ones .

III. Houseboats: As you know House Boats are one of our unique marketing product of heritage importance in tourism sector. Their sewage disposal should be prioritized first.

IV. Provision of treatment plants for garbage etc in tourism area:- This is a very important requirement particularly in our tourist areas which needs urgent attention. All tourist resorts old as well as new ones be constructed to have these plants in first priority.

V. Srinagar City: The city of Srinagar as mentioned above is on the verge of environmental disaster which will lead to diseases which may not be controllable and it is important that the government put in place schemes for city of Srinagar so far it’s sewerage and disposal of garbage is concerned. The fact is that Srinagar has become a “Soakage pit city” with all dirt and filth besides the dog menace .Necessary measures are required to be taken to protect the heritage city from acute sewerage and drainage problem.

Provision of Air Cargo/Custom Facilities besides Flower centre

With a view to overcome the difficulties being faced by the valley due to inadequate Air Cargo/Custom facilities it is proposed to have the same near the airport which can be combined with a flower centre on the pattern of Dubai flower centre which will not only improve the infrastructure for import and export from Kashmir but also give a fillip to flower exports which could be one of big earner of foreign exchange for our state.

Creation of International Trade Centre at Pampore

Unfortunately this has not come up even when the project has been approved by the government of India long time back and has not come because of red tapism of our bureaucratic set up with the formation of a company taking years to make . In the previous governor rule we had suggested that this facility could be expedited under private public partnership for which chamber is ready to identify the stakeholders with businessmen ready to partner with the government and international organisations like WTC .

This facility is very important for giving exposure to our products as well as in the long run have the possibility of tapping a very important segment of meeting, incentive, seminar, conferences (MISC) for our tourism sector.