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Finance Minister Drabu presents feel-good budget in J-K Assembly

Statesman News Service | Jammu |

In a feel-good budget in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Thursday, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu announced that the recommendations of the 7th Pay commission for government employees will be implemented in the state from 1 April. He also announced the release of 1 percent DA for government employees from July 2017.

Drabu, while presenting his 4th budget, also announced concessions for trade, industry, craftsmen and hoteliers.

The 7th Pay Commission will have retrospective effect from January 2016, Drabu said. The commission had recommended 14.27 percent hike in basic pay and raising minimum pay from Rs.7000 to Rs.18,000 per month.

Drabu proposed that the minimum wages of unskilled workers would be raised from Rs. 150 to Rs. 225, while those of skilled labour to Rs. 350 from Rs. 225. A new category of highly skilled worker has been introduced and Rs. 400 was fixed as the minimum wage.

He announced that the hotels and resorts will be treated at par with the industrial sector for payment of electric tariff with effect from 1 April. It has also been decided to waive off interest and penalty on all the power arrears owed to the Government by the industrialists and hoteliers and tourist resort owners who suffered losses during the floods in 2014 and unrest in 2016, he said

He rolled out a “CM’s Business Interest Relief Scheme”. For all the RBI approved restructured accounts, the Government will contribute one-third of the total interest payment of all these borrowers.

The government granted a one-time waiver of Rs. 1.47 crore on soft loans provided under erstwhile Prime Minister’s Package in respect of 19 Houseboat owners, who had taken such loans from Banks other than J&K Bank and State Bank of India.

The budget proposals also granted a waiver of penalty and interest on arrears of tax in respect of all the dealers registered under the provisions of J-K Value Added Tax, 2005 and J&K General Sales Tax Act, 1962.

Under Amnesty Scheme for the transport sector, the Finance Minister proposed waiving off interest and penalty on past arrears of token and passenger tax from 1st July 2016 to 31st March 2017.

Announcing health insurance for employees and pensioners, Drabu said their 5 family members each will be covered under the insurance scheme. The scheme has also been extended to accredited media persons.
He said that to ensure delivery of services in far off places, the government shall incentivise the postings in such places. “Every government official wants a posting in Srinagar or Jammu,” he rued.
He also announced that SGST rates will be brought down on a few items.

In a relief to the general public, the state government today proposed to abolish basic toll on all non-commercial, private light motor vehicles at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda.

He raised the toll on tobacco, in all forms, from existing Rs 290 per quintal to Rs 400 per quintal as tobacco is hazardous for health.