Jammu, January 10
As Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu is all set to present the state’s first annual budget post-GST in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, traders and industrialists are expecting some specific announcements that will help revamp the economy and bring relief to consumers.It will be the fourth Budget of the PDP-BJP government under Drabu in J&K.While the previous three Budgets mainly focused on bringing fiscal and economic reforms and revamping the treasury system, the government is likely to focus on key infrastructure sectors, industry and trade.“The transition from the old tax system to the GST was not smooth. The government should abolish toll at Lakhanpur as the additional tax on products is putting an extra burden on consumers. The government can retain tax on import of industrial products as demanded by the industrialists,” said Rakesh Gupta, president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI)-Jammu.During the pre-Budget meeting, the Chamber had called for a one-time amnesty to waive interest and penalties during the GST and VAT regime up to July 7, 2017.The trading community in Kashmir, which is under “tremendous pressure” and constantly suffers losses due to the law and order problems, are eagerly looking up to Drabu for boosting the business sector in the Valley. “During the pre-Budget meeting, we took up the waiver of interest on bank loans taken by the business community. Let us see what will be the outcome. We are hopeful that the government will announce some relief measures,” said Javid Ahmed Tenga, president, CCI-Kashmir.Feeling the heat of demonitisation in 2016 and the GST in 2017, industrialists have been calling for the extension of incentives announced by the Centre for manufacturers.Bari Brahmana Industries Association (BBIA) president Lalit Mahajan said, “We hope that the government extends the amnesty scheme for the industrial sector to clear arrears of Commercial Taxes Department post-GST implementation. Unit holders are suffering badly after the new tax regime mainly because of the cumbersome procedure.”For the common man, the main concern and expectation from the Budget is the redress of the confusion created in the market after the GST was implemented. “Although the GST was supposed to benefit people and lower the prices, consumers are facing rising cost of goods. There should be some clarity on the percentage of taxes being levied on goods especially food products,” said Kiran Bhat, a housewife.Deepankar Sengupta, Professor of Economics in the Jammu University, believes that the focus of the Budget would be more on reforming the infrastructure like roads, water, electricity, education and health than providing any major relief to people.