Malik Zahra Khalid Dr Aaliya Ahmed
Senior Assistant Professor, and Senior assistant professor in MERC,
Media Education Research Centre, Kashmir University
The Economic survey of year 2016 tabled by the government in the State Assembly paints a grim picture about the economic health of Jammu And Kashmir State. For the first time perhaps in any State of the country the government has factored in the uncertainty and turmoil in order to overcome such factors while going for the pace of development. This is not only the unrest but also the unemployment which is the main focus of the latest budget. The government is banking on innovations and path breaking measures to reform the existing system especially in terms of employment. But the biggest question is the implementation as in the past seven decades bureaucracy has proved to be the real masters and have always prevailed over the political will of successive governments to come out of debt trap. Financial independence of any state is the real Azadi and it has eluded J&K State despite having many avenues to become financially independent like its untapped hydroelectric potential.
One can debate how well and how implementable is the latest budget and opposition has raised some valid questions about the previous promises made by State Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu. Unemployment has been one of the biggest problems in J&K state and for the first time the government has started thinking out of box to address this issue. The government is going to make Adhar-Seeded registration with the employment department mandatory if any one was interested to apply for government jobs or for the employment schemes. The government has realized that how important is to have a data base of unemployment and how imperative it was to update this data on regular basis.
State Finance Minister in his budget speech said that the employment department hence forth will maintain a centralized data base of all unemployed youth so that the government can envision for future employment related interventions. The government has also decided that the employment department will implement all the state sponsored credit linked self- employment schemes thus trying to centralize the unemployment problem and to address it in a holistic manner. In order to hone the skills of those unemployed youth who want to become entrepreneurs the government has made mandatory for them to undergo comprehensive entrepreneur development programmes through RSETIS and JKEDI. In order to overcome the previous mistakes of making some failures in the direction of entrepreneurship Dr Drabu said that the main aim was to impart basic managerial and enterprise creation skills in those youth who are keen to start their own business enterprises. He has also promised to bring a proper mechanism for the disposal of such cases under single window system unemployed youth do not get discouraged while seeking government help to start their own business.
Jammu and Kashmir State has a chronic problem of being in death trap and it is only increasing. The announcement of setting up of Asset Construction Company is a healthy move to come out of the red. The government has decided that this company will be mandated by the impaired assets of state subjects that are mortgaged to financial institutions including some of the assets of the commercial banks as well as other financial institutions like State Finance Corporation. The Government has an eye on the recent Supreme Court direction in which all the financial institution’s in Jammu and Kashmir has a right to take over the assets mortgaged to the banks for the loans which have turned into Non Performing Asset’s. The government by such corporation can take over all the collaterals which is worth thousands of crores. Though the move has been hailed but it has to be seen whether it could be implemented or not. People have a right to express their reservations because in the previous two budgets state finance minister Dr Drabu has promised many innovative measures which were not implemented. The state government could have made hundreds of crores of profit if it could have implemented its previous budget decisions to make State Motor Garages department a s a corporation with enhanced the role of buying and selling vehicles. Similarly, in the previous two budgets the finance minister promised regularization of thousands of daily wagers and the same promise has been repeated in the latest budget. In the previous budget announcement of public bonds for Dal Conservation Project was hailed even by critics but it remained only an announcement.
The biggest challenge for the government is not the dearth of thinking out of box but implementation of their ideas on the ground. The state administration has been the biggest problem rather than the solution to implement innovative schemes on the ground. Will the government break the red tapism and inertia which has set in and all the previous governments have failed mainly because of no support from the Babus to bring J&K state out of the financial mess. In the latest budget the government has tried its best to address many important issues and has even considered the unrest and turmoil while framing the budget but it remains only on the papers unless it is not implemented by the bureaucracy. The state budget has mentioned not only the natural calamities but recurring unrests in Kashmir valley and has decided to ensure its own assets and also to provide insurance cover to the private sector including agriculture, horticulture against the turmoil. The government has worked a comprehensive insurance scheme for crops which include even saffron and apples from natural disasters including hailstorms, floods drought etc. In order to make it happen the government has provided a provision of 75 crores in the budget the biggest intervention till date to safeguard the interests of farmers. All such path breaking measures and steps now need implementation on the ground as any layman can understand that the economic losses in Kashmir valley are only piling up.
According to the economic survey tabled by the government there has been a loss of 160000 crores mainly in Kashmir valley and marginally in Jammu and Ladakh during months long unrest in the year 2016. Because of such huge losses due to cycles of violence and unrest the government has decided to factor in such situations while framing the budget, a separate provision of money has been kept in the budget to overcome such unseen cycles violence s of violence which will add to the slow pace of development besides inflicting financial loses all over. If the assets and businesses get insured as promised by the government in the budget, there would be a new thinking towards overcoming such losses in future.
Will the state government instead of just thinking out of box and announcing new schemes for the development of the state, can they reform the bureaucracy of Jammu and Kashmir state and bring it out of the clutches of Babudom . Or they repeat what the late Sheikh Abdullah did when he confronted similar problems by bureaucracy as he employed his own people with and mind to implement the programmes of the government in government departments. Though his decision to get head of departments from his party rank and file and even from the family (like he made Tariq Abdullah as MD, JKTDC), but he has given a path breaking idea for any political dispensation to implement their political vision by their own people rather than banking on bureaucracy which will never allow them to go for reforms at such a pace.
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