ZT News Desk

Srinagar, March 6: Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry today reacted on the debate on the implementation of GST in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and its impact on the state’s economy.

KCC&I, along with a majority of other stakeholders, had opposed the implementation of the law primarily on the ground that is would dilute the unique constitutional status and autonomy the State of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed. The impact has crippled our Handicrafts, Tourism and Industry sectors. The refunds to industries are lingered on for months together on one pretext or the other, Nasir Hamid Khan, Senior Vice President, KCC&I said in a statement.

In its report given in 2018, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had also raised red flags over the implementation of GST on Tourist related activities. It has recommended that it “must be reconsidered” and done in a cautious manner in order to ensure that the delicate state of tourism sector should not be adversely affected, KCCI said.

“The report had further underlined the sensitive nature of our State and stated that the implementation of GST on Tourism would have “manifold effects, mostly negative, on the economy in the Region”, opines the commerce and industry body.

Earlier recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s on the need for capping airfares has also been ignored by the Union Government, KCCI said, adding that it has been demanding bringing air travel under the Essential Services Act of the State in view of the frequent closure of the only road link to Kashmir. “Although the Ministry of Civil Aviation, under the UDAN Scheme for promotion of regional connectivity for making flying affordable, proposes 30 minute flight to cost only Rs 1,200/-, the citizens of our State are being forced to pay more than Rs 20,000 for the same distances.”

In addition, in the past three weeks, a sinister campaign targeting  the tourism sector has been started on the social media and sections of the electronic and print media. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & industry in   consultation   with  other tourism players  would be  constituting  a joint  team  for  visiting  friendly domestic  tourism  markets  and  interacting  with  our counterparts.

The Government on its part  needs to  sort out   connectivity,  infrastructural  and taxation   issues which  are proving  to be  the  biggest  impediments  in  our growth.

The Government is on record about the stressed condition of our economy from losses suffered from 2014 onwards. Various policy measures announced with much fanfare to support the business community by earlier Governments have not been acted upon. They stand shelved, modified and diluted.

“As a result of the above factors, the stress on various sectors of our economy, especially tourism, handicrafts and industry, has reached a critical breaking point. There is a immediate need for all stakeholders  to put in serious and effective efforts in a salvage operation. The sinister attempt to target our tourism and handicraft sector by goons and hooligans is condemnable and deserves a strong response”, KCCI further remarked.