Roadmap to enhance J&K trade volume by 5 times in 10 years

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, Aug 2:  To facilitate more investment in enterprises and build a vibrant business environment in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government has come out with first ever Trade and Export Policy, which lays out the roadmap for transition of the State’s agrarian economy towards a market driven new economic structure.
The Policy, drafted by the State Industries & Commerce Department in consultation with various stakeholders and approved by the Governor headed State Administrative Council (SAC), last evening, aims to enhance the domestic trade volume by five times in next 10 years,  help increase share of Trade & Commerce in State GDP by at least 3 percent and raise the share of State in Gross National Export from the existing 0.05 percent to 2 percent in next five years besides creating  employment opportunities for the educated unemployed youth.
To achieve the targets, the Policy envisages various strategy measures, such as re-orienting the economy towards an open market system targeting export-orientation,   export enhancement of market linked focus products like Jammu Bsmati,  support for standardized international certifications, packaging, development of common facility centres, development of market linkages with the outlets of international chain stores across the country, notifying District/Regional export Promotion Committees involving stakeholders, promoting organic cultivation, developing J&K as a favoured destination to increase the domestic as well as the international tourists, human resources and skill development, communication and logistics infrastructure, development of new markets and amenities and use of technology etc.
The Policy also stresses the need to identify cumbersome and non-transparent State border administration, particularly import-export procedure
The policy, which shall be valid for a period of 10 years or till a new Trade and Export policy is announced, reflects the dynamics of Jammu & Kashmir State as an agrarian economy in transition towards a market driven one. It is aimed to transform the State economy from a supply constrained one into a competitive export-led entity responsive to enhanced domestic integration and wider participation in national and global economy in tune with the national policies.
The private sector will be the lead stakeholder in the new endeavor and the State’s unique products and services would enable it to occupy rightful place in the global markets.  Instead of a regulator, the Government’s role would be only that of an enabler and facilitator in this process.
The role of trade sector towards realization of the goal of economic development will be attained through structural transformation on the economy and enhanced value-added productivity that would in turn contribute to the process of competitiveness and lead to rapid economic growth.  The Government would support establishment of world-class warehouses/distribution centres/logistics parks/dry ports by allotting land and providing incentives for such activities. It would also facilitate better road, rail and air connectivity to and from the State besides developing Communication & Logistics Infrastructure.
Under the new policy,  brand Jammu and Kashmir would be promoted in trade of locally produced goods like Silk, Tweed, Pashmina and Jamawar Shawls, Silk carpets, Ladakh Carpets, Paper Machie, Embroidery, Ladakhi Handicrafts, Saffron, Jammu Basmati, Guchhi, Anardana, Honey.
For the development of new markets and amenities, the concerned Municipal Corporations/Urban Local Bodies shall examine for liberalized conversion of the identified residential pockets into commercial zones so as to arrest haphazard and clandestine conversion of individual residential houses into business premises.
Besides, adequate provisions for commercial activities including kiosks and central markets shall be kept in the new housing colonies to be developed by the organizations like JDA, SDA and the J&K Housing Board depending upon the size and the location of the colony. Similar practice shall be adopted by the private developers of housing colonies.
Demand surveys shall be undertaken by the Government through professional consultants for development of future markets. A cluster approach would be adopted for development of specialized markets wherever feasible/advantageous. The retail trade organizations would be encouraged to formulate SPVs for development of new markets. The H&UDD shall expedite development of warehousing facilities as per their announced programmes and if needed, the Industries & Commerce Department shall provide input for the same. ‘Smart City’ project shall also strengthen the above endeavors of the Government in Srinagar and Jammu.
To encourage use of Information Technology by all concerned agencies to enable the trading community to gradually move towards modernization, the Government shall facilitate e-filing of returns under various Labour laws and financial codes as also for depositing various types of fees including monthly payments of employer’s share of the Provident Fund into the account of the PF Commissioner.
The Government will very soon introduce an e-commerce platform to link artisans and weavers of the State. Through this portal, the households shall serve as the virtual showrooms thus providing the artisans a wider reach of audience in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well as other countries.
For increasing employability in the sector of Trade and Commerce, special emphasis will be given to the development of human resource and skill development.  Government Institutions and established private Institutions will be encouraged to conduct certification based training and placement programs.
To organize meaningful periodical interactions among all the stakeholders, the State Government shall create Commerce Advisory Committee (CAC)/Export Promotion Committee at the State level, which shall deliberate on the mechanism to turn the policy into action programmes, seek cooperation from all concerned Government Departments,
arrive at a consensus by resolving sectoral/ departmental conflict of interests,  motivate the concerned Departments to agree to a ‘Common Minimum Programme’, consider all the sector specific suggestions relating to trade promotion,  monitor the progress of implementation and review the ‘trading policy’ and tackle new issues, etc.
The composition of the CAC shall be as broad based as possible and it shall, as far as possible, meet once at Srinagar and once at Jammu every year. Besides, it shall include all concerned Administrative Secretaries to the Government, the Regional Authority of DGFT and a few experts from the trade and marketing management as well.
The Trade Policy shall be reviewed by the State Government in every two years to accommodate new issues and matters recommended by the CAC and accordingly published.