‘UT on path of good governance, development, peace’
*Power dues pending since 2005 almost liquidated
JAMMU, Feb 11: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today said that Jammu and Kashmir’s GDP has gone up from Rs 1.6 lakh crore in 2018-19 to Rs 2.64 lakh crore in 2021-22 due to reforms undertaken by the Government during last four years.
Addressing a press conference here, Sinha said the reforms brought by the administration over the past four to five years resulted in GDP’s increase from Rs 1.6 lakh crore in 2018-19 to Rs 2.64 lakh crore this year.
The GDP for the year 2024-25 has been projected at Rs 2,63,399 crore which shows a growth of 7.5 percent, he said, adding the tax/GDP ratio for 2024-25 has been projected at 7.84 percent which is just higher than previous year’s 6.56 percent.
Following reforms, Jammu and Kashmir is on the path of good governance, development and peace. The reforms have also resulted in excellent growth,” Sinha said.
Jammu and Kashmir’s interim budget was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 5 and was passed by the Parliament couple of days later. Interim budget of the UT is to the tune of Rs 59364 crore while full budget for 2024-25 is worth Rs 1,18,728 crore as against Rs 1,18,500 crore in 2023-24.
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Referring to J&K Bank, the Lieutenant Governor said it is a living example of change over the past five years. “The bank has 1.4 crore account holders and was showing a loss of Rs 1200 crore. Today, it is running a profit of Rs 1300 crore which is expected to reach Rs 1800 crore at the end of this financial year,” he said.
Sinha said the NPA of the bank dropped from 11 percent to 4.3 percent, while the price of its shares increased from Rs 12.4 in 2019-20 to Rs 144 this year.
Sinha said the present administration has inherited to re-pay the huge power debts worth Rs 28000 crore and added that the power dues pending since 2005 are almost liquidated which is a big achievement for his administration.
The Lieutenant Governor said that the economic condition of the UT is much better than what it was earlier.
“J&K administration’s efforts have been to increase capital expenditure and decrease revenue expenditure,” he said.
The LG said that revenue expenditure of J&K is Rs 80,000 crore as a vast portion goes into salaries of employees while capital expenditure has recorded a quantum jump of Rs 38000 crore from Rs 11000 crore.
The capital expenditure for the fiscal has been proposed at Rs 38,566 crore, which is 14.64 per cent of the GSDP, as per the interim Budget tabled by the Minister on February 5.
“This is an interim budget and no big announcement was made in it. This was the fifth budget for J&K prepared under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and during these five years, the Government was successful in achieving various targets like overall development, employment generation and industrial growth,” Sinha said.
He said the self-respect of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was restored with better opportunities for the youth, improving living conditions of farmers and bringing changes in the lives of the poor besides empowering women.
“The decades-old wounds of the people were healed and discrimination ended,” he said, adding the immediate goal of utilizing funds is to accelerate the pace of economic development in J&K and make it multi-dimensional.
“The budget 2024-25 is primarily a growth-oriented budget and in line with the endeavours of the UT Government to double its economy in the next few years,” the Lieutenant Governor said.
He said the capital expenditure recorded a quantum jump of 245 percent in the past four years, reaching Rs 38,566 crores. The capital expenditure towards GDP is 14.64 percent.
Sinha said his administration followed the Centre’s ‘mantra’ on GDP – G for good governance, D for development and P for performance and also added fiscal consolidation to it.
“The financial progress of the UT was fully taken care of with focus on how to increase revenue capital expenditure and minimize the wasteful expenditure and it was achieved successfully.”
He said the revenue receipt estimates for 2024-25 are Rs 97,861 crore, which is 92 percent increase compared to 2018-19.
The tax revenue witnessed an increase of 12 to 15 percent in the last four years, while the GST payers increased from 72,000 in 2018 to over two lakh at present and the GST revenue recorded 51 percent increase during the same period, he said, adding the excise revenue and stamp duty also showed a quantum jump.
The Central Government’s budgetary support also recorded 51 percent growth, he said.
“Because of the increase in the revenue receipts and assistance of the Central Government, the capital expenditure is expected to reach about 15 percent of the GDP which is a great figure,” he said, adding the administration has achieved success to ensure transparency and accountability to a large extent.
Meanwhile, Sinha reassured the Scheduled Tribes (STs) living in the Union Territory that there will be no change in their reservation policy after the addition of four new communities to the list.
He termed as historic the passage of two bills by Parliament providing reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Local Bodies and addition of four more communities — Gadda Brahmin, Koli, Paddari Tribe and Pahari Ethnic group — to the list of STs in Jammu and Kashmir.
“It (the passage of bills) is an important decision for the social and economic condition of the concerned groups. The historic step would provide reservation to the OBCs in Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies elections, while the long pending demand of four communities who were included in the ST list was fulfilled,” Sinha said.
He said there will be no impact on the 10 percent reservation of the STs including Gujjars and Bakerwals who were included in the list decades back.
“The Home Minister (Amit Shah) is on record having told the Parliament and public rallies in Rajouri (in Jammu) and Baramulla (north Kashmir) that the addition of the new communities will have no bearing on the reservation enjoyed by Gujjars and Bakerwals and other communities,” the Lieutenant Governor said.
Asked about any initiative taken by his administration to counter any attempt by vested interests to mislead the public or disturb brotherhood by pitching Gujjars and Bakerwals against Paharis, he said “no brotherhood is going to get disturbed in the UT.
“Some people play politics and some are there to work for the benefit of the people. Both will continue and ultimately it is truth which prevails”.
Replying to another question that some people are using the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan in Kashmir as a symbol of dispute and is there any move to close down the office after J&K’s complete integration with India on August 5, 2019 following abrogation of Article 370, he welcomed the sentiment and quipped “Aap ki jo samiksha hai us par chahe gai to dekha jaye ga”.
Sinha said that in the next financial year, more than Rs 1,200 crore have been allocated for security related activities including construction of 42 new border police posts to strengthen the anti-infiltration grid.
Highlighting the sector wise key features for 2024-25, he said an allocation of Rs 1,284.45 crore under revenue and capital expenditure was made for security related activities which also included construction of 1,218 community and individual underground bunkers for the border residents.
The completion of installation of CCTV cameras with command-and-control centres at public places, improvement of basic facilities in police stations, police posts and police housing complexes and implementation of Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) Project would also be covered, Sinha said.
The LG said the focus areas for the budget spending would be good governance, strengthening grass-root democracy, promoting holistic and sustainable agriculture, promoting Jammu and Kashmir as an investment destination, employment generation, developing new tourism destinations, accelerated development & inclusive growth, women empowerment and social inclusion.
With regard to e-governance initiatives for 2024-25, he said his administration plans to extend e-office in all the offices and panchayats, PM Gati Shakti to be fully implemented, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and internet of things to be implemented for effective delivery of services to the citizens by the Information Technology Department.
He said Rs 5,038 crore under capital expenditure was allocated to water supply and irrigation, Rs 3,730.83 crore to rural development and panchayati raj, Rs 2,029.95 crore to agriculture and allied sectors, Rs 1,427.61 crore to health and wellness, Rs 1,875 crore for power sector and Rs 469.20 crore to tourism and culture.
Similarly, an allocation of Rs 1,300.10 crore was granted to the Education Department, Rs 2,329.55 crore to Housing and Urban Development, Rs 4,108.87 to connectivity (roads and bridges) and Rs 529.62 crore for industrial development, the LG said.
‘UT on path of good governance, development, peace’