Minister for Finance Dr Haseeb A Drabu today said he is seeing a silver-lining of conformity emerging on J&K’s fragmented political canvass for delineating a viable economic roadmap for the State.“As had happened at the national level in 1991, prior to economic liberalization, a broader political consensus is emerging in Jammu and Kashmir to put in place a viable economic framework, a robust fiscal management structure and a doable budgetary policy,” Dr Drabu said while replying to the discussion on Demand for Grants of the Finance, Labour & Employment Departments.He said the fiscal policies introduced during the past three years are aimed at bringing stabilization in JK’s economy and reduce volatility for economic revival through enhanced investments, public expenditure and widening the net of socio-economic security.Dr Drabu said the key structural reforms like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) are establishing mechanisms for efficient fiscal management besides enhancing transparency. “48% cumulative growth, including reimbursements by the centre, has been recorded in tax collection post implementation of GST in the state, with registered revenue growth of 25.33%”, he informed the House.
Elaborating, he said that after the implementation of GST and upto the month of December 2017, the Commercial Taxes Department registered a cumulative growth of 25.33% by collecting revenue of Rs 5466.41 crore for the period April to December 2017 against Rs 4361.57 crore for the period April to December 2016.Responding to the concerns regarding GST, the Finance Minister said that GST regime is continuously evolving with inputs from all states to make the country ‘One Unified Common Market’.He said that GST Council with active participation of J&K has made a large number of changes by way of reduction of rates, simplification of procedures and relaxation/extension in filing of returns to mitigate the difficulties of business fraternity.Besides this, the state government has also made various concessions under new tax regime aimed to boost the industrial sector and also to provide them level playing field for setting up of industries in Jammu and Kashmir which happens to be at the tail end of the country and have to bear additional costs for running this units, he added.Dr Drabu announced that the Pay and Accounts Office Systems will be rolled out in a few weeks and asserted that PAO system will be the biggest reform instrumental in rooting out corruption from the system. Further it will reduce/eliminate public interface with the treasury staff and would bring transparency, he added.“We are moving steadily towards digitization and will be 100% Direct Benefit Transfer compliant in the near future,” the Finance Minister informed.FM announced that a new expenditure management system is on anvil under which separate allocations will be made for capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar and remaining districts to ensure equitable development in the state.
With regards to the employee welfare initiatives, the Finance Minister said that the government was committed for the welfare of its employees and has announced implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendations from April 1, 2018, which will be effective from 1st January, 2016. Besides, this release of 1% Dearness Allowance due to the employees from 1st July, 2017 was also announced in the Budget Proposals 2018-19.He said that various other measures have also been taken by the government including reducing the eligibility for full pension from 28 years of qualifying service to 20 years of qualifying service, unmarried daughters of the employee now been made eligible to receive pension once the employee and his/her spouse is dead, proposal to enhance the Deposit Linked Insurance of GP Fund subscribers from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, improved and enhanced Group Medi-claim Insurance Policy for all employees and others.Addressing the concerns regarding increasing ratio of unemployed in the State, the Finance Minister informed “There is a need to formulate an employment policy that is sustainable; we are trying to work an investment based employment policy”.Regarding regularization of the daily-rated workers, the Minister said that the government has got varied figures in each department regarding the number of such workers.
“However, the final figure for regularization will be arrived at only through Aadhaar-based biometric verification of the workers provided by various Departments,” he said.Finance Minister informed that the government has taken a major welfare initiative for workers in the state’s unorganized sectors by providing them institutionalized socio-economic security.“Under the scheme named “Muhafiz”, around 3 lakh workers registered with Jammu and Kashmir Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (JKBOCWWB) will be covered under accidental, life and disability insurance besides providing educational scholarships to their children”, Dr Drabu said.He said that the scheme also envisages extending micro credit facility to such workers and facilitating their registration through online and other modes.Later the House passed the Grants to the tune of Rs 3607198.53 lakh and Rs 19855.90 lakh for Finance and Labour & Employment Departments with a voice-vote.Earlier, several members including Nawan Rigzin Jora, Sukhnandan Kumar, Mubark Gul, Raja Manzoor Ahmad,Usman Abdul Majeed, Ravinder Raina, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Bashir Ahmad Dar, G M Saroori, Jeevan Lal, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Devinder Singh Rana, Chowdary Qamar Hussain and Abdul Majid Larmi participated in the discussion on Demand for Grants of the Finance, Labour & Employment Departments.