Process on, Parl to give nod to budget
Steep hike set to give major boost to development
JAMMU, Oct 22: In a major boon for economic development of Jammu and Kashmir and boost to projects, the Union Territory Government is set to project budget for next financial year of 2021-22 to the tune of around Rs 1.25 lakh crore, which will be higher than current fiscal year but, in the absence of Legislature, the budget will be passed by the Parliament, most likely along with the Union budget.
For the purpose, top officials of the Finance Department of the J&K Government are in touch with the Union Home and Finance Ministries besides holding regular meetings with Government officials of the Union Territory to ascertain their requirements. Meetings with other stakeholders are scheduled after about a fortnight after reopening of the Civil Secretariat in Jammu, the winter capital of the UT.
Jammu and Kashmir’s budget for third consecutive year is all set to see steep rise and will be pegged around Rs 1.25 lakh crore though it has to be given final touch by the Finance Department here followed by the Administrative Council and Union Home and Finance Ministries. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the J&K’s budget in the Parliament.
“Till Assembly elections are held in Jammu and Kashmir and the UT gets its Legislature, J&K’s budget will continue to be passed in the Parliament. However, after formation of political Government in J&K, the Legislature will have powers to present its budget based on the grants given by the Union Home and Finance Ministries,’’ sources said.
Describing Rs 1.25 lakh crore worth budget for Jammu and Kashmir as “quite significant’’, sources said it has to go through various stages including finalization by the Finance Department followed by approval of the Administrative Council. As the Union Home Ministry is controlling authority of all Union Territories, it has to clear the budget before it goes to the Parliament.
“We are prepared for the budget whether it is presented in the Parliament in its winter session in December or budget session in February-March. Our preparations for the budget are in full swing and will be completed well ahead of the time,’’ the Finance Department officials said, adding the indications are that the J&K’s budget might be presented in the Parliament a day after or along with the Union budget. It may be mentioned that the Union budget is generally presented in the Parliament on February 1.
Presently, the Finance Department officials are engaged in discussions with the different Government Departments to know their needs for next financial year of 2021-22 to incorporate them in the budget. This will be followed by the discussions with other stakeholders after which the budget will be given final touch.
However, since Jammu and Kashmir is now the Union Territory, the Finance Department has to keep the Union Home Ministry officials apprised about preparations for the budget which, at present, is being done through official communications because of Coronavirus pandemic.
Jammu and Kashmir’s annual budget has seen steep hike during past three years. In 2019-20, J&K’s had 88,911 crore worth budget which went up to Rs one lakh crore for 2020-21 and is now expected to touch Rs 1.25 lakh crore in the financial year of 2021-22.
Regarding current financial year of 2020-21, sources said because of the financial discipline maintained by the Finance Department in Jammu and Kashmir, there has been no financial crunch. There has been full cooperation of the Union Home and Finance Ministries to Jammu and Kashmir Government in implementation of the budget proposals, the sources said.
Asserting that the budget above Rs one lakh crore is a handsome amount, sources, however, said that because of Coronavirus pandemic there is possibility that Jammu and Kashmir might not be able to utilize it in full as the UT lost around seven months of the financial year due to COVID-19 pandemic and developmental projects couldn’t move apace. However, with pandemic subsiding now, the projects have gathered momentum.
It may be mentioned here that it was during the tenure of Ghulam Nabi Azad as head of the Congress-PDP coalition Government that a new trend was launched in Jammu and Kashmir to present budget in the month of January. This had helped the administration to finalize the budgetary proposals and projects to be undertaken in the financial year in January-February when most of areas of J&K are snow bound. The budget was distributed in February and works started in March.
The UT Government has almost carried forward this process since then.