Relief Package

Not only by experts in Economics and Finances, even the proverbial rustics hold the view that to repair the damage caused to economy on account of the pandemic of COVID-19 and to get it back on rails, we needed to work hardest, at least twice as much as we were doing before the lockdown or in normal circumstances. In a country where wheels of commerce, industry, trade, railways, transport, civil aviation etc needed constant greasing in order to ensure they moved not only uninhibitedly but fast as well, should come to terms in respect of how heavily have we lost by applying abrupt brakes for nearly one and a half months in the shape of a lockdown which again is now extended till May 17 though with added relaxations. We need to repair the damage gradually and the process has started now though in one way or the other, some sort of relief and succour were provided to certain categories side by side the enforcing of the lockdown which had no other soft alternative. There is hardly any category of business , trade and commerce that is not hit as also the persons manning them, owning them or associated with them as workers, employees, agents, providing petty retailing facilities etc.
It is heartening that the UT Government of Jammu and Kashmir, sensitive to the difficulties and hardships faced by various segments on account of lockdown, has come out with a relief package of Rs.350 crore in favour of eight categories of persons . Since in one go, covering additional deserving categories cannot administratively as also due to other factors be possible which could definitely follow the present package, patience, forbearance and co-operation could be the only alternative for expectedly some very brief time. Administrative Council has very recently taken a decision to this effect to provide relief, at the outset, to eight categories which include construction workers, houseboat and Shikara owners registered with Tourism Department , tourist guides, Ponywalas, Palkiwalas, Pithuwalas registered with the concerned departments, active flower growers, Self Help Groups under Umeed scheme etc.
Unless we are sensitive and alive to the sufferings of the people with low to moderate means, daily wage earners etc, no relief or welfare measures could be worth their name. Accordingly , street vendors, Rehriwalas, Thelawalas, Phadiwalas registered with JMC and SMC etc too are included. It may be recalled that construction workers have already been paid for one month through DBT. Business Support Category, Women Entrepreneurs, Handloom and Handicrafts too are covered under the decision of relief package which is in the shape of both upfront now and later more , amount of relief. What about those whose licences, permits etc for various purposes have expired and needed extension and renewals, too has been taken care of by the Administrative Council by extending the validity of such existing licences up to June 30. The same holds good about fixed component of power charges in respect of the concerned establishments and institutions which too stand deferred to June 30. The problem faced by those whose bills with the Government are pending for payment for quite some time is sought to be looked in by a committee formed for the purpose. The composition of the committee having representation on it from different concerned departments is indicative of resolution of the problems speedily that otherwise come in between the bills and their clearance.
The other side of the problem is that the Government too is suffering on account of tremendous drop in revenue as taxes, Government dues, fees and other forms of revenue are not received and most of them have caused to be lost like excise duty etc while expenditures have surged. However, a balance has to be struck and ways and means found from out of the present position having sprouted due to totally unexpected and unimagined crisis threatening the very lives of the people.