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J&K lukewarm to industrial incentives

The Centre's latest move to bolster Jammu and Kashmir's (J&K) sagging economy does not seem to have aroused any great enthusiasm in the J&K business and industrial community.

The initiative came on June 14 in the form of a notification from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The notification contained a comprehensive package of incentives as part of a new industrial policy for the state.

The incentives included a 100 percent excise duty exemption for ten years to new industrial units as well as to existing units undergoing substantial expansion in growth centres, industrial infrastructure development centres, industrial estates, industrial parks, export processing zones (EPZs) and commercial states.

The Centre's notification said the package had been announced to accelerate industrial growth in J&K which had been trailing behind other states. The package was primarily meant to “boost investor confidence.” And it is primarily in boosting investor confidence that the Centre has not quite succeeded.

The initiative had begun to flounder right during the extravagant government-backed “Vision Kashmir 2020” event here from June 20-22. According to local industrialists, the Vision Kashmir 2020 hosted nearly 100 delegates, out of whom there were only a dozen or so prospective investors. “Eight of the 12 left next morning, followed by two more the day after,” wrote Kashmiri journalist Masood Hussain, quoting an unnamed official source.

Investors are generally hesitant to put their money in an unstable place. On the other hand, Srinagar Chamber of Commerce is of the opinion that Vision 2020 is a distant dream, and plans to organise a more realistic and focused “Glimpse Kashmir 2002.”

J&K industries department officials, however, insist that the initiative has not really crashed. State industries director Mohammad Salim Beig says that a tractor manufacturing company has showed willingness to invest if it got a 1000-acre plot of land.

There are a few industrialists thinking of investing in the state, to take advantage of the Centre's incentive, but their choice is the relatively calm, Hindu-dominated Jammu rather than the turbulent, Muslim-dominated valley of Kashmir.

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