LG hails importance of tax payers in economic development
SRINAGAR, Nov 22: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said that the funds for development and projects which have been provided to the people of Jammu and Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370 have made all aspirations of the people come true.
While interacting with the officials of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs in Srinagar, Sitharaman said that the facilities, the development given to Kashmiri citizens since August 2019 have made all their aspirations come true.
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“There is no point if it is kept only for small population. Some people are holding all the resources and denying the ordinary citizen his right and that is why in today’s Government ordinary citizens are seen participating in electoral process,” she said.
The Finance Minister said that ordinary citizens are actively participating in electoral process inspite of calls which disallow them to do so. “People want to grow, their aspirations are there to be realized. It is this common aspiration for which every citizen should be given space and that is being given to the people of Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370,” she added.
She announced discount rates for some items in J&K and said that concessional rates of GST apply to few items which are unique to J&K. “Those include carved wood products, art ware, decorative articles of wood barrel, and so on. Wooden frames for paintings, photographs, mirrors etc also have a favourable rate,” she said.
Sitharaman also said that statues and ornaments of wood and jewellery boxes are given discounted rates. “Articles of paper machie also have a discounted rate of GST. Handmade carpets, textiles, floor coverings also get a concessional rate. Hand paintings, drawings including Bhasoli paintings also get a good GST rate,” she said.
She added that the projects which have been completed in J&K under Pradhan Mantri Development Programme are about 21. “The Batote-Kishtwar Simthan Pass has been completed under PMDP, Jammu-Udhampur road project, Chenani-Nashri tunnel, inter-subvention scheme, external aided projects (EAP) have also been undertaken, counterpart funding EAP is also happening, assistance for damaged houses is also given under PMDP, PoK and Chhamb displaced people are also given assistance,” she informed.
The Minister said that today she wants to inform the people of J&K about where is the money going which they are paying as tax.
Referring to LG’s remarks, she said that ‘Bhagyi Dhari’ which means people’s participation, so tax collection is not important as much as engagement of the people to let them know that every penny of tax gets contributed in the development of this region.
She said that she wants to make people aware that every penny they pay as tax is brought to them through development. “The importance of collecting legitimate tax is understood and also through a transparent process which we can explain how the money gets spend.”
The Finance Minister said that there are about 250 Principal Commissioners of Income Tax all over the country. “In the northwest region alone, there are about 20 Principal Commissioners of Income Tax. Now the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax has been allotted to the UT of J&K which is the 21st in number in northwest region of India and 251st all over India.”
She said that an experienced officer has been brought for J&K who will provide greater information so that tax settlements can be made, facilities can be provided to tax payers, technology driven facilities would be given so people don’t need to visit the office as they can do it from home now.
Sitharaman inaugurated “The Chinars”, new Aayakar Bhawan and residential complex at Rajbagh in the presence of LG Manoj Sinha.
Sitharaman thanked the people of Jammu and Kashmir for their contribution to the efforts in enabling the commissioning of ‘The Chinars’ Aayakar Bhawan and the attached facilities. Dedicating the project to the people of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, she said that the Income Tax office at Srinagar will act as a bridge to connect the people of the region to the best taxpayer services and also help them in their taxation issues. She also observed that it will provide an enabling environment for the people’s participation in the development of the region.
In his address, LG Manoj Sinha highlighted the importance of taxpayers in the economic development of the country and said that the Income Tax department is becoming seamless from the stage of filing return to the issuance of refund. He observed that the success of the taxpayers will lead to greater economic development of UT of J&K. He also appealed to the taxpayers to honestly pay their taxes.
The Finance Minister interacted with the tax administrators and stakeholders of J&K at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) Srinagar later in the day.
In her interaction with tax administrators and stakeholders at SKICC, she urged the officers of both CBDT & CBIC to be agents of change and reach out to the industry and business individuals to ascertain their expectations from the Government. While emphasising that officers of both CBDT & CBIC should work collectively, The FM also stressed upon the importance of their role as facilitators & educators, making themselves more accessible to the taxpayers of the region to provide better taxpayer services.
She also inaugurated works pertaining to Health, Education, Urban infrastructure and disaster management amounting to Rs 130.49 crore and also laid the foundation stone for Union Territory (UT) Level Emergency Operation Centre and SCADA control building at Budgam, Kashmir amounting to Rs 34.88 crore under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP).
The world bank assisted project was started in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the devastating floods of September 2014 which severely affected low lying areas of Anantnag, Srinagar and adjoining districts causing immense damage to housing, livelihoods and roads and bridges.
In a significant step towards the self -reliance of the artisans of Jammu and Kashmir, many artisan clusters were developed under this project with an objective of reviving the traditional crafts and providing gainful employment opportunities to youth.
One major recent achievement of the project has been the enlistment of Srinagar city in the UNESCO world creative cities network. Srinagar became one of the 49 cities worldwide to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) under the Craft & Folk Arts category which is a moment of pride for all Indians.
Meanwhile, Nirmala Sitharaman along with Manoj Sinha today held interactions with a number of women entrepreneurs of Jammu & Kashmir, at the SKICC.
The interaction programme included over 60 women entrepreneurs from J&K working in a variety of sectors, including beekeeping, dairy, handicraft, journalism, copper works, and furniture manufacturing, among others. The event featured success stories of women entrepreneurs from across the UT who have been benefitted under different schemes initiated by the J&K government.
The Union Finance Minister lauded the efforts of LG administration for creating a successful women Entrepreneurship culture in the UT of J&K which is unique among the country. She said it is encouraging to see that the women entrepreneurs here are in such fields which were not taken by many and were usually male dominated.
During the interaction, Sitharaman listened to the inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs in J&K and how they rose above the challenges to benefit their society at the grassroots level.
“The land of Kashmir is the land of Maa Sharada and that absolute power-packed knowledge-driven energy is what has come out here. I appeal to you to move around the country and share your stories”, she remarked.
She also encouraged the women entrepreneurs and the Mission Director, RLM to prepare a detailed plan, after threadbare consultations, on how they could be facilitated in a much better way. She said the action plan can further be incorporated in the next budget.
On the occasion, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha highlighted the key initiatives initiated by the UT administration for supporting women entrepreneurs under different schemes, commensurate with their educational background and experience.
He observed that the culture and tradition of our country considers women to be a form of power and in J&K, we have ensured that women rise as a beacon of enlightenment and become vital drivers in the developmental journey of Jammu & Kashmir.
“It has always been my firm belief that the contribution of women in economic activities is by no means less and there will be many examples where their contribution is much more than that of men. Therefore, last year itself, the UT administration had taken a decision to move ahead from the talk about empowering women and to implement programmes on the ground, in a concrete way to establish their rights”, the Lt Governor asserted.
Meanwhile, Nirmala Sitharaman, in presence of Manoj Sinha, today inaugurated works pertaining to Health, Education, Urban Infrastructure, and Disaster Management worth Rs 130.49 crore and laid the foundation stone for Union Territory Level Emergency Operation Centre and SCADA control building at Budgam, Kashmir (amounting to Rs 34.88 crore) under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP).
The sub-projects are part of the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP) which is assisted by a credit of $250 million from the World Bank. The project was started in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the devastating floods of September 2014 which severely affected low-lying areas of Anantnag, Srinagar, and adjoining districts causing immense damage to housing, livelihoods and roads and bridges. It has been under implementation by Government of J&K as part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for J&K since its effective date of 19.04.2016. The project aims at both restoring essential services disrupted by the floods and improving the design standard and practices to increase resilience.
The high social impact of JTFRP was felt in the COVID-19 pandemic response by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, wherein an amount of $50 million was allocated and utilized for the COVID-19 response, by activating the Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) under the project. Medical equipment worth Rs. 290 crore and 30 oxygen generating plants at a total cost of Rs. 75 crore were procured thereby giving a boost to the health infrastructure to cope with the challenges posed by the pandemic.