J&K budget has hopes and high projections

Under the given circumstances, there could have not been a budget better than the one recently presented for Jammu and Kashmir for the fiscal year 2022-23 in the Lok Sabha by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman totalling Rs.1,12,950 crore, more than a 10 percent increase on comparative basis related to the last fiscal. The Union Territory is all set to build several landmarks, other things remaining the same, and with serious implementation of the allocations for the designated purposes and the rate of realising of the projections made, may even cross many and thus meriting the budget to be called as ”growth oriented”. Education sector having received the requisite thrust is notable as Rs.11833 core are allocated for it which means an increase of 9 percent as compared to the last fiscal. Udhampur and Kupwara are set to get a Medical College each by the next fiscal while as many as seven Nursing Colleges are expected to be operational this very fiscal. The budget , in its crux , can be summed up laying more focus on education, overall development and annual growth as also on security concerns. However, while more hopes were there for this budget in respect of addressing mounting unemployment, giving a push to the main tourism industry worst hit by COVID pandemic , more of industrialisation and inviting more investments in various projects, this budget has tried to make allocations variedly but not stitching cogent schemes for providing direct employment opportunities .
Agreeably, with just Rs.25314 crore as UT’s own revenues expected, cannot cater to either its revenue or its capital expenditures optimally during the fiscal which, therefore, have been proposed to be augmented by the central assistance of Rs.35581 crore plus Rs.29750 under Prime Minister’s Development Package . While the economy of the UT is expected to grow at 7.5% even after having undergone the strains of dormancy under the COVID pandemic , on the other hand , how a fiscal deficit of Rs.9570 crore will be reduced considerably is again a question of importance . Conventionally, the Government can reduce its expenditures which is difficult for obvious reasons of commitment on various economic and social projections and objectives. Conversely, widening the tax base and collecting more revenues could conventionally be resorted to in order to address fiscal deficit and to have necessary leverage for revenue expenditures. Security issues and related matters being a major part of expenses are however to get Rs.10831 crore.
Agriculture and allied sectors are to get Rs.1950 crore while only Rs.604 crore are proposed to be allocated for tourism and cultural sectors. The fact that the central Government giving more thrust on addressing problems of our rural areas as a general socio-economic policy, is evident as the UT is getting Rs.4627 crore for our rural sector and earmarking Rs.1313 crore for strengthening and empowering Panchayati Raj Institutions while Urban Local Bodies will be getting City Grants of Rs.100 crore in this budget. One thing of related importance needs to be underlined that Jammu and Kashmir has never ever seen Panchayati Raj Institutions getting as much of Government support , financial and structural , as since the elections to these institutions were held in October 2018.The fact that the water bodies like lakes are constantly getting a focus in respect of how to address their survival problems , Rs.373 crore are thus proposed to be spent on them which should result in their present condition causing concern, to be perceptibly getting bettered.
However, the two major sectors of great utility and importance being power and drinking water , though comparatively power scenario in Jammu and Kashmir stands vastly improved with minimum load-shedding schedules largely due to undertaking repairs and renovations of the power infrastructure , yet an amount of Rs.2458 crore having been allocated which probably could , besides generating more power, address problems regarding worn out and outdated existing infrastructure. However, all time high allocation for Jal Shakti sector by allocating Rs.9289 crore or Rs.6413 more than last year, is expected to vastly improve the drinking water problems especially in Jammu division and in our rural areas. Connectivity related requirements like bridges and roads would get 5218 crore while industrial sector will get Rs.556 crore implying expectations of good measure of investments in that high potential sector . Since both the capital cities are reeling under the traffic congestion problems even during non-peak hours especially in the Jammu city, there seems to be no particular scheme or time bound programme to address that in the budget, however, work on the project of Light Metro Railways is promised to be started this very year. However, more flyovers in the congested city of Jammu must get priority even under non- budgeted allocations.
This budget is prepared apparently with the sole aim of touching most of the critical areas of the economy to result in appreciable growth in the GDP and to attain economy’s 7.5 percent growth. Therefore, the focus is on how all round and speedy development could be ensured to take place evenly in Jammu and Kashmir.