Kashmir: Businesses demand phased opening from June

Kashmir: Businesses demand phased opening from June

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The business community in Kashmir has demanded phased opening of markets from June stating that the continuous lockdown due to Covid19 has pushed the population into penury and starvation.

Representatives from over 35 trade organisations have urged the government to initiate a process to ensure the restoration of businesses. The trade leaders said that the Union Territory administration and the Centre should announce relief measures and packages to ensure that the businesses would be revived due to three consecutive lockdowns since August 2019, when special status of J&K was abrogated and the erstwhile state was downgraded into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

In the first year of communication blockade and crackdown, business organisations had projected a loss of Rs 40,000 crore in Kashmir.

“…The pandemic has created havoc to all kinds of businesses in J&K. Many of the business and industrial units are closed down causing loss to livelihoods,” read a statement issued after a joint meeting of business organisations. They have decided to take up the matter with the LG administration and the Union government to ensure that proper initiatives are taken for businesses and industries in J&K.

“Markets and businesses should be allowed to function under strict Covid19 protocol,” said Sheikh Ashiq of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Farhan Kitab of the Joint Coordination Committee of City Centre Traders, said that the process to lift lockdowns should start by providing amnesty on payment of service bills, extension of statutory dates of GST, exemption of interest and penalty for not filing returns by the statutory date and a six-month moratorium on bank interest and EMI without interest.

“A bailout package from the government is imperative in this crisis,” a famous hotelier from Kashmir, Mushtaq Chaya, said.

The business representatives suggested that a holistic report based on an assessment of the ground situation should be prepared before approaching the government. They said that everyone at the meeting emphasised that immediate relief must be provided to the weaker sections and daily earners who are starving after having lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.

“Since the UT of J&K is directly under the control of the Union government, it is the latter’s responsibility to ensure that the threat to the businesses and industries in J&K is tackled with a comprehensive revival package,” Ashiq said.

Another senior business representative, Muhammad Yasin Khan, said all business associations have united to tackle the challenges caused by the pandemic. “We will chalk out a strategy to ensure that the revival is done properly,” said Khan.

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