Minister for Finance Dr Haseeb Drabu today announced constitution of an Expert Group to study the reasons for development deficit in the State’s hard areas and suggest measures for boosting infrastructure development in such neglected areas.“The Government would also make development deficit in remote areas of the State, a part of the terms of reference of the proposed State Finance Commission so that a holistic view is taken on the issue and the allocation of resources is made accordingly,” the Finance Minister said while replying to the discussion on Budget 2018-19 in the upper house.He said there are many hard-to-reach areas in the state, extending from Kupwara to Kathua, which have faced neglect over the years and need special attention and focussed development with additional resources. He said the Finance Commission to be constituted by the government will also come up with the recommendations to uplift these areas.
Acknowledging the problems being faced by the people in the hard-to-access areas of the State, Dr Drabu announced a special duty allowance of 10% of basic pay for the state government employees posted in such areas adding that the government will also work to bring these hard areas at par with the other ‘developed’ areas.Regarding implementation of 7th Pay Commission Recommendations for the employees of PSUs and Autonomous bodies, the Finance Minister said the government has no objection if these organizations implement the pay commission recommendations subject to availability of resources.To bring more beneficiaries under the ambit of various social security schemes, Dr Drabu said that additional funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore each shall be added to the existing corpus for Old Age and Widow Pension.He also announced that the widowed daughters of the government employees will also be eligible for pension as earlier announced for their married daughters.Dr Drabu also proposed merger of Marriage Assistance and various other scholarship and welfare schemes for girls to make these more comprehensive and productive. He said the government will come up with a consolidated welfare scheme for which the additional incentive shall be added with Aadhar linkage to avoid possible duplication.
The Finance Minister said that the state government in the last three years has been putting in financial resources for generation of employment in the state.He also proposed to revisit the Fixed Travel Allowance (FTA) provided to engineers working in the government departments to make it rational saying that currently FTA for these employees is a meagre Rs 30 per month.The Finance Minister further announced increase in the refreshment of the government employees during assembly session for overtime work. He said it would be enhanced from the existing limit of Rs 7500 to Rs 10000.For further development of floriculture sector, Dr Drabu announced Rs 5 crore for promotion of flower cultivation, packaging & exports. A suitable incentive scheme would also be worked out, he added.With regard to the initiatives for the legislators, the Finance Minister announced that the medical allowance of the former legislators will be brought at par with the sitting MLAs/MLCs, increase in car loan from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and also giving leverage to the members if someone did not availed the car loan facility, he can utilize the amount for availing home loan upto Rs 20 lakh.