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Consolidated land holdings key to capitalise agri-mechanisation: Economic Survey

Agencies


New Delhi, Jan 30: The predominance of small operational holding in the agriculture sector calls for consolidation of land holdings to capitalise the benefit of agricultural mechanisation, the Economic Survey 2017-18 noted.

As per the survey, Indian farmers are adapting to farm mechanisation at a faster rate in comparison to recent past, reflected by the extensive sale of tractors.

Indian tractor industries have emerged as the largest in the world and account for about one-third of total global tractor production, it added.


According to the World Bank estimates, half of the Indian population would be urban by the year 2050.

It is estimated that the percentage of agricultural workers in the total workforce would drop to 25.7 percent by 2050 from 58.2 percent in 2001. Thus, there is a need to enhance the level of farm mechanisation in the country.


Due to the intensive involvement of labour in different farm operations, the cost of production of many crops is quite high. Human power availability in agriculture also increased from about 0.043KW/ ha in 1960-61 to about 0.077 KW/ ha in 2014-15. However, as compared to tractor growth, increase in human power in agriculture is quite slow.

Over the year, the survey stated that the shift has been towards the use of mechanical and electrical sources of power. In 1960-61, about 93 percent farm power was coming from animate sources, which has reduced to about 10 percent in 2014-15.


On the other hand, mechanical and electrical sources of power have increased from 7 to 90 percent during the same period.


According to the Economic survey, there is a need to innovate custom service or a rental model by institutionalisation for high cost farm machinery such as combine harvester, sugarcane harvester, potato combine, paddy transplanter, laser guided land leveler, rotavator to reduce the cost of operation and it can be adopted by private players or state or central organisation in major production hubs.


Agricultural R&D is the main source of innovation, which is needed to sustain agricultural productivity growth in the long-term, the survey said. The actual expenditure of Department of Agricultural Research and Education/Indian Council of Agricultural Research has increased from Rs.5393 crore in 2010-11 to Rs.6800 (BE) crore during 2017-18.

Furthermore, the compound annual growth rate of expenditure has been 4.2 percent over the years and in recent years' expenditure has been on the higher side.

During the current year (2017-18), investment in Agriculture Research and Education protected new Agricultural innovation by filling 45 patent applications at Indian Patent Office (IPO) and the cumulative patent applications have now risen to 1,025. 10 copyright and 12 trademark applications were filed by ICAR for products and processes.

To meet various obligations arising from interest subvention being provided to the farmers on short-term crop loans, Rs.20,339 crore was approved by the Government in 2017-18.

The survey further added that this institutional credit will help in delinking the farmers from non-institutional sources of credit, where they are compelled to borrow at usurious rates of interest. Since the crop insurance under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is linked to availing of crop loans, the farmers would stand to benefit from both farmer oriented initiatives of the government, by accessing the crop loans.

The government has been undertaking market reforms with a view to ensuring that the farmers benefit from remunerative prices for their produce in the market. The electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) that was launched by Government on April, 2016 aims at integrating the dispersed APMCs through an electronic platform and enable price discovery in a competitive manner, to the advantage of the farmers.

While the farmers are advised to undertaken on-line trade, it is also important that they avail themselves of post-harvest loans by storing their produce in the accredited warehouses.

The loans are available to Kisan Credit Card (KCC) holding small and marginal farmers at interest subvention of 2 percent on such storages for a period of upto six months. This will help the farmers to sell when they find the market is buoyant, and avoid distress sale. It is, therefore, needful for the small and marginal farmers to keep their KCCs alive, the survey added.

Reiterating the government's vision to double the income of the farmers by 2022, the survey said several new initiatives were launched that encompass activities from seed to marketing. The credit from institutional sources will complement all such government initiatives like Soil Health Card, Input Management, Per Drop More Crop in Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), PMFBY, and e-Nam, the survey noted.

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Climate change may cut farm income by 20-25%: Economic Survey report 2018

New Delhi, Jan 29: Climate change could adversely affect farmers income by up to 20-25 per cent in the medium term, the Economic Survey warned and suggested the need for "dramatic" improvement in irrigation, use of new technologies and better targeting of power and fertiliser subsidies.


The government has also been recommended to take "radical follow-up action" to achieve its objective of addressing agricultural stress and doubling farmers? income.


Since agriculture is a state subject and an open political economy question, the Survey strongly advocated a mechanism similar to the GST Council to bring more reforms in the agriculture sector and boost farmers income.


"Climate change ? whose imprint on Indian agriculture is already visible ? might reduce farm incomes by up to 20-25 per cent in the medium term," the Survey for 2017-18 said.


Climate change could reduce annual farm incomes in the range of 15-18 per cent on average, and up to 20-25 per cent for unirrigated areas, it said.


At current levels of farm income, that translates into more than Rs 3,600 per year for the median farm household, the survey estimated. "Minimising susceptibility to climate change requires drastically extending irrigation via efficient drip and sprinkler technologies, and replacing untargeted subsidies in power and fertiliser by direct income support," the Survey said, while calling for review of cereal-centric farm policy. India needs to spread irrigation and do so against a backdrop of rising water scarcity and depleting groundwater resources, it said.

 

At present, about 45 per cent of farm land is under irrigation. The Indo-Gangetic plain, and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are well irrigated. But parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand are still extremely vulnerable to climate change on account of not being well irrigated. The Survey further said that fully irrigating Indian agriculture, that too against the backdrop of water scarcity and limited efficiency in existing irrigation schemes, will be a defining challenge for the future. Technologies of drip irrigation, sprinklers, and water management?captured in the ?more crop for every drop? campaign?may well hold the key to future Indian agriculture and hence should be accorded greater priority in resource allocation, it said. And, of course, the power subsidy needs to be replaced by direct benefit transfers so that power use can be fully cost and water conservation furthered, it added. 


Stating that the climate change will increase farmer uncertainty, the Survey called for an effective crop insurance and embrace farm science and technology with renewed ardour. "Building on the current crop insurance program Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, weather-based models and technologies like drones need to be used to determine losses and compensate farmers within weeks," it said. 


Stating that the agri-sector is experiencing structural changes leading to new challenges and opportunities, the Survey said that the farm sector will remain an engine of broad based growth even as its share in gross value addition (GVA) is on the decline. The central priority of the government will be to provide opportunities for farmers to diversify their income generating opportunities to reduce the various risks by facilitating the development of agriculture sub-sectors like livestock and fisheries, it observed. 


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Other Highlights:


  • India's agriculture sector is likely to grow at 2.1 per cent in 2017-18, followed by Industry (4.4 per cent) and services (8.3 per cent), according to the Economic Survey 2017-18 which tabled in Parliament on Monday.

    Economic Survey indicated that the government was keen on doubling farmers' income by 2022, for which it has launched several new initiatives that encompass activities from seed to marketing.

    According to the World Bank estimates, half of the Indian population would be urban by the year 2050. It is estimated that percentage of agricultural workers in total work force would drop to 25.7 per cent by 2050 from 58.2 per cent in 2001. Thus, there is a need to enhance the level of farm mechanisation in the country.

    Due to intensive involvement of labour in different farm operations, the cost of production of many crops is quite high. 


  • Human power availability in agriculture also increased from about 0.043KW/ ha in 1960-61 to about 0.077 KW/ ha in 2014-15. However, as compared to tractor growth, increase in human power in agriculture is quite slow. 


  • Trade of agri commodities worth more than Rs 36,000 crore have taken place on eNAM: President Kovind

  • In the last four years, the level of real agricultural GDP and real agriculture revenues has remained constant. Climate change—whose imprint on Indian agriculture is already visible—might reduce farm incomes by up to 20-25 % in the medium term

  • Employment, education & agriculture to be the focus areas in medium term, says Economic Survey. 


  • New facts on the Indian Economy: Extreme weather adversely impacts agriculture yields.

To ensure food security, this government is providing food at minimal prices to the poor - Economic Survey

  • Economic Survey expresses concern over air pollution in Delhi; suggest use of happy seeder machine and technology to convert agricultural waste


  • Actual expenditure of Department of Agricultural Research and Education/Indian Council of Agricultural Research has increased from Rs.5393 crore in 2010-11 to Rs.6800 (BE) crore during 2017-18.


  • Other measures to ensure mainstreaming of women in agriculture includes initiating women centric activities, focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit: Economic Survey


  • To ensure mainstreaming of women in agriculture, 30% of budget to be allocated for women beneficiaries: Economic Survey


  • Rs 20,339 cr has been approved by the govt in 2017-18 to meet various obligations for interest subvention to farmers.


  • India needs to take on 4 challenges to ward off the fears of an impending 'Late Converger Stall'


  • 1. Backlash against globalization
  • 2. Difficulties of transferring resources from low productivity to higher productivity sectors
  • 3. Upgrading human capital to the demands a tech-intensive workplace
  • 4. Climate change-induced agricultural stress

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JK’s economic recovery has begun, revival to follow: Haseeb Drabu

Jammu: 

Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu today said the wide-ranging fiscal and welfare measures announced in the State budget are aimed at setting JK’s sluggish economy on the path of revival and 

recovery.


“It took this Government three years to restore the rotten fiscal system, put in place a sustainable Public Expenditure Policy and set the State’s economy on the path of steady recovery and revival,” Dr Drabu said while winding up the discussion of the Budget proposals in the Legislative Council today.


Enumerating, the Finance Minister said, that J&K has landed up in a serious fiscal crisis because of various long and short term reasons including protracted political turmoil, 2014 floods, 2016 disturbances, demonetization and GST. “When I talk of fiscal crisis, let me make it clear, I am not talking about the Government finances, but the entire economic system involving every section of the society,” he said and added that the only way to set the State’s economy on the recovery and revival path is to enhance autonomous public expenditure, which is the basic theme of this Budget.


He said the fundamental intent of making it a stakeholders’ Budget is to generate income across various levels of people, pump public money into the system and push economic revival through a sustained effort. “That is why we have announced various measures in this budget so that money keeps continuously flowing and circulating in the system to keep the economy enduring,” Dr Drabu said and added that these measures would facilitate greater flow of cash in the system which would go a long way in the revival the sluggish economy.


Defending his decision of extending various financial benefits to the employees, he said there are 4.5 lakh employees and every employee has a family of at least five persons. “That means that a population of around 25 lakh souls is directly linked to the government. If they spend, the economy improves, if they save money, it also helps,” he said and added that the same dictum is the main reason for amnesties that are a part of the budget. “When we announce some amnesty, we actually write off somebody’s liability and when there is no liability, it automatically becomes income,” he explained.


He said the focus of the renewed fiscal policy is to enlarge constituency of peace, restore dignity of the state and its people and make it relevant for the times that we live in and essentially for the stakeholders. “This is perhaps the first budget that is not about the government departments but the stakeholders encompassing every section of the society including poorest of the poor, marginalized, employees, traders, industrialists, agriculturists, women, girls, students, youth and destitute,” Dr Drabu said and added that he wanted to make this budget relevant for the times and the people of the State and its economy. 

“And I am contended that I have achieved the objective to a significant extent,” he said and added that with the budgetary edifice in place, now is the time to consolidate the fiscal and budgetary reforms at the departmental level for sustained and self-generating efficiency gains.


Dr Drabu reiterated that the system building started in 2015 has a positive impact, Dr Drabu said the biggest proof is that perhaps for the first time in the budgetary history of J&K, the revised estimates for the current year are much better than the budget estimates that he had presented last year.


Enumerating he said, three numbers stand out: tax revenues were estimated to be Rs 9931 crore. These have been exceeded and in the process, we have crossed the Rs 10000 crore mark of own tax collection. “Second, I had estimated an unfunded resource gap of over Rs 3000 crores. As the year comes to an end, I have a surplus of more than Rs 1300 crore. Third, the fiscal deficit which is regarded to be the single most important indicator of fiscal performance was estimated at around 9.5 percent but has actually turned out to be around 5.7 percent; an improvement of nearly 400 basis points. This is unprecedented,” he said and added that because of a well-run financial setup, the Govt is now able to take decisions that change lives of the people for good, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized.


The Finance Minister observed that the state imports more from other states than it exports and hence more money goes out of the system. He said to attract more investment in the state, the government need to handhold and incentivise the industry to attract more investments that will help to increase the flow of money in the system. Dr Drabu informed  that in 2012-13, out of one rupee, 36 paisa were going out of the state towards imports while it has been gradually brought down up to 30 paisa this year that has helped to retain more money in the state. He said the government has also been able to reduce the GPF liability from Rs 20000 crore to Rs 8000 crore besides reducing the liabilities of power and other concerned agencies.


He said the Government is at the same time trying to bring up a new rural fiscal architecture by linking Panchayats with Rural and Cooperative Banks. “We want to effectively revive the institutions of rural local governance in the State with a sustainable supportive fiscal system side by side,” he said and added that the capital infusion of Rs 250 crore to three Cooperative Banks and the decision to connect these banks with the Panchayats will provide regular fund flow to these banks. He said a parallel financial structure has been initiated for empowering the Panchayats and further boosting the rural economy.


Speaking on the recent initiative taken by the government for construction workers, the Minister said that in the last three years, the funds have been increased for their welfare including insurance cover, overdraft facility and other measures for the construction workers.


Elaborating on the provisions kept in the Budget for Agriculture, sector, Dr Drabu said that the focus of the government is to promote commercial agriculture to transform the rural economy for which the spending is more than 10 times. He further said that Horticulture is a major part of agriculture sector and thrust is on professionalizing these sectors to generate more employment.


The Finance Minister said that the government has recently increased the minimum wages of un-skilled, skilled and highly skilled workers and this move will in turn raise the market wages prevailing in the state thereby increasing the incomes of the poorest. He further said the proposed uniform Labour Code will be a landmark initiative for the welfare of the labourers.


Defending the decision of keeping the Toll Tax regime intact in the GST era, Dr Drabu said it is vital to the policy making in the state. “It is not a matter of revenue as that is too small an amount,” he said. 

“It is vital to the requirements of the state to know what and how much comes and goes out of the State. It is the only gateway we have and the information is required for the protection of the local industry. Trade balance is something that we must always know and the gap in it is surging.”


Dr Drabu said the toll tax has been there since 1938. Between 2003 and 2010, it increased by half and now it saw a marginal shift and it has suddenly become an issue. “Toll is more important for protection of local industry,” he said.

Responding to the concerns of the Legislators regarding J&K Bank, Dr Drabu assured the House that although he favours complete autonomy in the functioning of the Bank, but as a regulator he will take the requisite measures to address the issues concerning the Bank.  “We would look into the issues, if any, in the JK Bank and ensure that its functioning is made more transparent. However, it should not be a reason for getting the issue to the House for a debate because it has costs for the finance institution,” he maintained.


Budget discussion concludes in Upper House

Jammu: The general discussion on budget concluded in the House on Wednesday with several members participating in the debate.


Initiating the debate, Ghulam Nabi Monga, said the Panchayat budget is not up to the expectations. He accused the government of disempowering the Panchayats.


He said the provisions included in the budget for R&B, agriculture sector and unemployed youth is not up to the mark. He also said that current budget has neglected rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. He appealed the Government to pay special attention towards the aforesaid demands.


Qaiser Jamsheed Lone, in his remarks, praised the intelligence of Finance Minister but castigated the finance minister for presenting a theoretically based budget which has less impact on grass root level. He added that government has failed to include the provision or enhancement of funds for the important sectors like agriculture, sheep and animal husbandry. Besides, the MLC praised the provision for horticulture sector in the budget.


Mohammad Muzzafar Parrey, said that the aspirations of 60,000 casual workers have not fulfilled by dispensation just by their regularization policy, as their cases have not been taken seriously.


Terming the agriculture sector as a backbone of rural economy, the MLC said that government should provide more funds for the sector, so that major chunk of agrarians is benefitted properly.


He snubbed that house members and also some officers are not serious about the proceeding s of the council which causes disregard to the sanctity of the House.


Saif-ud-din Bhat, appreciated finance minister and his team for presenting such people friendly, clear and transparent budget which is easily comprehensible for general masses without any obstacle. He hailed the provision for reforming the treasury system and introduction of Pays and Accounts (PAO) to put an end on the corruption and delay in works.


He hailed the decision of nominating Vice Chairman in several public sector corporations, which will help to streamline its functioning and will generate more income for the state. He also appreciated the incumbent for enhancement of wages for labour class and also hailed the decision for earmarking of funds for the revival of carpet industry.


Showkat Hussain Ganaie, while criticizing the budget, he termed it as replica of previous budget and nothing special has been introduced in the current fiscal year budget. He also alleged that government has failed for providing relief to the common people and also said that current government has failed to include the aspirations of common people in the budget.  He also said that the newly appointed VC’s for corporations is burden on state exchequer. He said that such amount would have been utilized for the development purpose.


Naresh Kumar Gupta, while opposing the budget said that unemployed youth have been totally deprived in the budget and also demanded that special attention is to be paid towards the far flung and remote areas of Chenab valley for their holistic development including the education, better road connectivity and other basic amenities.


Ramesh Arora, hailed the present incumbent for producing a transparent and clear crystal budget. He stressed upon the government to clarify the mode of payment of arrears to the employees on account of 7th pay commission. He also exhorted upon the government to create a separate department for the PoK refugees which will address their daily related issues demands.


Sham Lal Bhagat, appreciated the inclusion of Panchayat budget for its smooth functioning, while as, he exhorted upon the government to come up with pragmatic and proper implementation policy smooth functioning of Panchayat raj at the ground level. He demanded to establish more bank branches in rural areas for easy transfer of funds. He also said more attention should be paid to the development of the agrarian sector of Chenab valley to boost the economy and to find scope for the construction of Mandi in the area.


Zafar Iqbal Manhas hailed the budget by calling it people friendly and said that it is easily comprehensible for the common masses and also said that budget witnessed the decrease in deficits which indicates a big breakthrough for the government.


He also said that more attention should be paid to saffron and silk industry and appealed the present incumbent to put an end to the concretization and construction on the saffron land. He also demanded to increase in wages of labour class.

Views and reactions of common citizens, political and leaders and technocrats on Budget 2018-19

Updated: Thursday, Jan 11, 10:00 PM


For the first time there is meaningful budgetary support for the agriculture sector. There are many initiatives like the vegetable clusters. It is for the first time that any government has taken agriculture sector seriously. It is people-friendly. I am happy with the budget - Ghulam Nabi Lone, Minister for Agriculture.

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05:05 PM

On outsourcing Controlled Atmosphere (CA) cold storages facilities outside the state:
"Efforts should have done to encourage greater investment in the private sector within the state in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) cold storages. We need to create jobs within the state. It is difficult to understand the logic behind outsourcing storage of apples to out side J&K." - Nasir Aslam, Provincial President, National Conference. 

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​It ​is a Budget with a ‘conscience and heart’ t​hat​ reach out to every section of the society​. It​ has adequately taken care of the interests and aspirations of common masses, employees, businessmen, traders, youth, poor and marginalized​ - Naeem Akhtar​, PDP Leader and Works Minister.

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"It is a routine budget, there nothing special about it. The commitments made by the coalition government in the Agenda of Alliance do not reflect in the budgets presented in the last three years. We were earlier told that the central government will help us but that has not happened. The government has given some lollipops like the 7th Pay Commission, etc. In the end of the day, the results on the ground are zero." - Ghulam Ahmed Mir, President, JKPCC.

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Salman Anees Soz: Why we should take things with a pinch of salt.

Finance Minister, Mr. Haseeb Drabu, has presented J&K's budget. I am certain a lot of people have worked hard on its preparation. There are things in the budget that people will like and there will be room for criticism. I don't want to get into the details of the budget. But I do want to make sure everybody who is interested reviews the budget carefully and goes beyond what is said in the budget speech.

I will illustrate my point by using an example from the Finance Minister's budget speech. In paragraph 5, the Minister, in asserting that the state's fiscal situation is improving, says: "The biggest proof is that, perhaps for the first time in the budgetary history of J&K, the revised estimates for the current year are much better than the budget estimates that I had presented last year! Three numbers stand out: tax revenues were estimated to be Rs. 9,931 crore. These have been exceeded and in the process, we have crossed the Rs. 10,000 crore mark of own tax collection." I am not talking about his other two points but just this one. It is an example, after all.

While we should celebrate big numbers but they can also hide some realities. Impressive as Rs. 10,000 crore sounds in terms of own tax revenues, using absolute numbers can sometimes mislead. One way to look at such data is to see what percent of the total revenue comes from own tax revenues. The Revised Estimate of Total Revenue for 2017-18 is Rs. 55,307 crores. Own tax revenue is Rs. 10,136 crores. That means Own Tax Revenue as a share of Total revenue stands at 18.3%. But, the same ratio stood at 22,2% in 2012-13, 21.8% in 2013-14, and 21.8% in 2014-15. If the J&K Government is going to celebrate a an increase in Own Tax Revenues, then there should be an explanation for the decline in this ratio.

Speaking of lower than expected ratios, I suggest analysts also look at the share of central resources in Total Revenues. Even though the PDP-BJP Government has a BJP Government at the centre, resource transfers are relatively low as a share of Total Revenue. Despite this, the budget estimate for 2018-19 again pegs central transfers at a relatively high rate (which has not been achieved in the last few years).

I hope all of you will not view the entire budget with cynicism. That is not the purpose. I just want citizens to view the budget from different perspectives. That advances the cause of good policymaking. That helps us hold the government accountable."

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Updated: 4: 35 PM

REACTION OF THE KASHMIR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY (INC.) ON THE  BUDGET 2018-19

The budget announcement made by the Finance Minister is encouraging to a large extent in certain sectors provided implementation is done for all the promises made. 

While appreciating the focus in the initial part  of the speech regarding the PSUs  which are important  for development by infusion of capital and  professionalizing   these PSUs  with removal of all politicians  and bureaucrats from their boards to make them autonomous and independent of government control. .

In regard to the expectation of the MSME Sector for the CGST & SGST for refund as previously enjoyed by them and restricting it to only value added part is not acceptable to the industry.

We appreciate inclusion of tourism industry (hotel, resorts etc.) in regard to power tariff at par with industry which was a long pending demand of the KCC&I.

In regard to subsidizing 1/3rd interest post flood contrary to our demand for refund of full interest, we demand other 2/3rd  be got from the GOI to be followed up vigorously or all these will become NPAs.

We appreciate the power amnesty to all sectors of industry.

We appreciate the seriousness of Hon’ble Finance Minister in reviving the transport sector.

We welcome the setting up of Dry port with DPA of Dubai to give logistic connection for J&K. 

We also appreciate the education loan interest intervention.

We also welcome the intervention proposed by Finance Minister in respect of silk industry,  bat industry, walnut, national saffron mission, apple industry,  CA store, packaging of apple, which will need further improvement in consultation with KCC&I being main stakeholder of the trade, commerce and industry.  

We appreciate creation of carpet  villages although  it is lower than our  demand of Handicraft villages as there are other handicraft like shawl, crewel, etc which have same potential.

We also appreciate inclusion of handicraft units under MSME  for all  industrial incentives which was our long pending demand besides marketing support for carpets.

We appreciate the fillip given to the trout fishing industry of Kashmir by subsidizing the air freight.

We appreciate the Hon’ble Finance Minister focusing on renewable energy. But unfortunately no venture capital fund has been provided for helping local entrepreneur which was our demand

We thank and appreciate The Finance Minister for taking steps in making the JKSPDC a public limited company.

The Finance Minister has chosen to take advantage of Sec. 5 of the J&K Constitution to impose further taxes on us by imposing taxes today and in future in different sectors like petroleum, real estate etc. Why in the first place the same section was not taken advantage of by having our own GST Law?

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Updated: 4: 25 PM

J&K Bank Officers Forum welcomes the state government announcement of recapitalisation of cooperative banks in J&K and infusing of funds in primary agricultural cooperatives. The Forum is of the opinion that such a visionary step by the Hon'ble FM will help in resurrecting the oldest cooperative banking structure in rural areas, paving the way for efficient credit delivery to farm and allied sectors.    

Riyaz Bhat, Secretary General - JKBOF

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There is nothing special for environment and natural resources in this budget. Neglecting this important area in the budget was an utter disappointment. The valley should expect a justifiable budgetary allocation to restore wetlands, to conserve natural resources and to promote environmental sustainability.  - Dr. Khalid Ul Rehman Hakeem Associate Professor, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah. 
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"The proposal to extend benefit of Assured Career Progression to other technical cadres like Agriculture is a welcome step. While this step could benefit mainly those coming through the PSC route, agricultural technocrats' expectation is for the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) to be held which hasn't been held since long." - Abdul Hameed Shah, President, J&K Agricultural Technocrats Association. 

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4:10 PM 

"This is just another budget. The state has no money and whatever comes from the government of India, J&K government has to work within those constraints.  Under GST all revenue goes to the government of India. All we have done is basically surrendered our economic independence whatever was left of it. Now ​we have a pack of cards with no aces. That means that we will have to play only with jokers. 

Having said that, the decision of granting pensionary benefits to unmarried daughters, implementation on the 7th Pay Commission recommendations, 1% enhancement of dearness allowance (DA), the reduction of pensionary benefits service years from 33 years to 20 years and the decision related to transgender population are positive steps." - Sheikh Qayoom (J&K Bureau Chief, IANS) 

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It is not fair to expect something unexpected from the budget of a poor and undeveloped state like J & K.No finance minister can do something magical.Even though there are some appreciable initiatives in the budget for the betterment of the common man which include abolition of toll taxes and export duty on the fruits.Implementation of seventh pay commission recommendations is a big step which did not happen so calmly in past.Pensionary and insurance benefits to the employees and their family members are also welcome steps.Rest is as usual in the budget - B. A. Bhat, Shopian

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3:55 PM

"Budget 2018-2019, presented by Hon'ble Finance Minister today is an utter disappointment and it seems more illusionary than realistic one. Out of 110 pages, not a single word, reflected on environment, forests or wildlife nor any reformative process [ideas] was shared in the Budget about the conservation and preservation of our natural resources." - Nadeem Qadri, environmental lawyer and activist

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3: 45 PM 

"There is a lot for entrepreneurs, given that we are short of jobs in the state. Right now people are talking about the budget, but the impact and the implementation are what really matter. All in all, it seems to be heading in the right direction. Hoping for the best" - Sardar Nasir Khan, popular Radio Broadcaster. 

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Updated: 3:35 PM 

Fiscal deficit previously estimated at around 9.5 per cent has actually turned out to be around 5.7 per cent.

Govt. had estimated unfunded resource gap of over Rs. 3,000 cr. But it has reported  surplus of over Rs. 1,300 crore. Fiscal deficit, was estimated at around 9.5% but has actually turned out to be around 5.7%; an improvement of nearly 400 basis points. 

Revised estimates for the current year are much better than the estimates presented last year! Tax revenues were estimated to be Rs. 9,931 crore. These have been exceeded & in the process, we have crossed the Rs.10,000 crore mark of own tax collection.
 

When I took over as finance minister, we had liabilities of more than Rs. 11,000 crores. Today, the departmental liabilities have come down to Rs. 600 crore or so of works done and power purchase liabilities have been reduced to a little more than Rs. 3,000 crore - Finance Minister

Rs 5 crore each provided to the Handicraft Development and Handloom Development Corporations for raw material and inventory upgradation.

Unmarried daughters of the employees, who were hitherto not entitled to receive pension, have now been made eligible to receive pension once the employee and his/her spouse is no more.

Finance Minister proposed to enhance the Deposit Linked Insurance of GP Fund subscribers from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.50 lakh. Similar Scheme shall be framed for the employees covered under NPS.

Government has increased the Personal Accidental Insurance from Rs.5.00 lakh to Rs.10.00 lakhs.

I have worked out an "Assured Career Progression Scheme" for all the Gazetted cadres of engineering departments - FM

I propose to extend benefit of Assured Career Progression to other technical cadres like Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal & Sheep Husbandry etc.

Government will consider providing alternate incentive in lieu of CST to the industrial units in the State.

3:15 PM:

​"We don't fully understand the budget terminology. For common people its language should be simple and we should be able to understand what is being proposed" - Samina Shafi, Research Scholar, Anantnag​

​"For people like me the main concern is jobs.​ Has this budget created enough jobs for the ever increasing number of unemployed educated youth? I doubt that", Shamim Ahmed, Agriculture Graduate, Kupwara

"Government proposes to set aside a sum of Rs. 25 crore to finance orchard re-plantation/ high density plantation initiative."

Govt decides to facilitate setting up of walnut processing units in the private sector through an enabling interest subvention scheme.  

Interest and penalty on all the power arrears owed to the Government by the industrialists and hoteliers and tourist resort owners waived off.

J&K’s Accredited journalists to be covered under Mediclaim Group Insurance Scheme.

Govt. announces 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.

Finance Minister announces release of 1 per cent DA for govt employees from 1st July 2017.

2:45 PM:

"It is highly populist. There is no push on systemic reforms. Private sector and entrepreneurs have nothing to cheer about. The extended insurance scheme will only lure young people towards government jobs and further aggravate dependence." - Peerzada Ashiq (Bureau Chief, The Hindu)

On group medical insurance for accredited journalists:

"It is a good beginning but journalists have a lot of issues. The government should sit down with journalists and pay attention to this sector as well. We have lot of issues, mainly related to job security. 

Wages are low in the sector. There needs to be a wage board to ensure decent salaries in the media sector. There are no pensionary benefits available to journalists right now. We would like government to pay attention to that as well." - Athar Parvaiz, senior journalist, IPS

In a big move with implications on the supply chain management and pricing of apples of J&K, the government has decided that "in the interim, till a scheme to facilitate private players to establish more Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storages in the State is designed & operationalised", a scheme for hiring of CA stores in areas adjacent to National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi by Horticulture Department for use of apple growers of state.

2: 05 PM

J​&​K Govt to revive Wo​o​llen ​Mills​ Plant at Solina, Spinning Mills Nowshera and set​ up Silk Factory ​at ​Bari Brahmana​, Jammu.

Finance Minister announces ​i​nterest ​subvention on education loan, re-basketing scholarships, new training programmes for middle pass, career counselling framework, educational tour programmes for youth​.​

​A Disaster Mitigation Fund with an initial corpus of Rs. 10 crore​ has been set up​.

Lower Munda and Heerpur Toll Posts​ have been abolished​.

Toll on vegetables, medicines, sugar, salt, tea, soaps/detergents, sanitary items, water coconut, wheat seeds, tree spray oil, newsprint, Jaggery (Gur) has been abolished.

1:52 PM

"Rs 29128 is to be capital spending out of Rs 80313 Cr in the course of the year. This is by far the highest capital spend in economy of JK" - Tak Firdous (PDP MLA, Kishtwar)

"We would like to know, how much government will allocate to social sector. Our education and health sectors is shambolic. Agriculture is dwindling.
Income gaps are continuously rising between the agricultural and service sectors. Does government has any special allocation to reduce the gaps - Javid Ahmad Wani, Ladhoo, Pampore, Pulwama.

1:45 PM

Our stand from the beginning is that GST cannot be extended to J&K state like other states because this place being a conflict zone. We believe J&K must have complete powers about taxation of goods and services as was the case before in case of services - Siraj Ahmed, Chairman, Jammu Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC)

1:42 PM

Great vision of chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti and finance minister, Haseeb Drabu to address chronic issues in state budget which had assumed a huge social magnitude - Rafi Mir, Chief Spokesman, PDP

1:38 PM

Real estate, electricity, alcohol and petroleum to be brought under GST ambit in J&K.

A committee of officers and professionals in the area of taxation and industry has been constituted to work out the framework for bringing real estate, electricity, alcohol and Petroleum a J&K GST.

Finance Minister announces support for the creation of a Common Facility Centre for Cricket Bat Industry at Sethar, Anantnag under public-private partnership.

Free life and medical insurance cover and a monthly sustenance pension on the pattern of old age pension scheme for all transgender people above the age of 60 who are registered with the social welfare department has been proposed.

Toll on export of all types of fruit to be abolished

I have decided to abolish toll on export of all types of fruits produced within the State - FM

1: 30 PM

On minimum wages for the skilled and unskilled labour: 

"​The unskilled are already taking Rs 500-Rs 550 a day, which is much higher than the minimum wage being recommended by the government. At the end of the day it is the market forces, the issues of supply and demand that determine the wages in the unorganised sector - ​Muhammad Yasin Khan (Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance)

1: 20 PM:

Power tariff concession to hotel industry: It is a good news for us. We are highly thankful to the Finance Minister and the government for this decision. It has been our long-standing issue - Tariq Rashid Ghani (Secretary General J&K Hoteliers Club)

1: 12 PM

On enhanced minimum wages for labourers:

We would like to know if the government would also like to look at the Consumer Price Index numbers for Agricultural labourers, which is basically used for revising minimum wages for agricultural labourers." - Farooq Ahmed Khan (Fruit grower and activist)

1:00 PM

On power payment, hotels to be at par with industries

Govt. decides to treat hotels and resorts at par with the industries as far as payment of power tariff is concerned. From 1st April, 2018, they will now have to pay the same power tariff as is applicable to the Industries. 

7​th Pay Commission Recommendations from April 1"​
I am committed to implement 7th Pay Commission Recommendations from April 1, 2018, which will be effective from 1st January, 2016.​"​
 

​"One time waiver of Rs. 147.23 lakh 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 SBI​ being proposed."​
 

Rs 5 crore each to the Handicraft Development and Handloom Development Corporations for raw material and inventory upgradation. 

12: 40 PM 

"All Govt employees-pensioners, along with 5 family members, will be covered under improved&enhanced Group Mediclaim Insurance Policy. Given that there are 4.5lakh employees &about 1.5lakh pensioners, this insurance cover extends to about 30lakh people." -  FM

"The State Government shall also provide freight subsidy to the industrial units located in the State and transporting their manufactured goods beyond 1000 kilometres outside the state." - FM

12: 32 PM

"The minimum wages of unskilled workers were 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 was introduced and Rs. 400 was fixed as the minimum wage." - FM

'Good finance is not an end in itself; it is a means to a social and humanitarian end. This is especially so in J&K which has gone through unimaginable troubled times." - FM

12: 30 pm: 

Finance Minister has begun his budget speech.

"I  have initiated process of financial engineering in Public Enterprises. J&KSPDC, for instance, has made considerable progress towards financial engineering &their Balance sheet at the end of the year will show that the Corporation is a debt free company." - Haseeb Drabu

10:50 am 

At constant 2011-12 prices, agriculture & allied sector is likely to grow at 8.37% in the year 2017-18 as compared to negative growth rate 4.24% in 2012-13, 3.99 % in 2013-14, (- )10.91% in 2014-15, 24.74% in 2015-16 and 2.49% in 2016-17. 

The sector is expected to grow at 6.81 % as per the rough estimates for the year 2018-19. ​

10: 40 am 

According to the J&K Economic Survey 2017, the state economy is expected to register growth of 8.49% (Advanced) during the financial year 2017-18 at constant prices of 2011-12 as compared to growth rate of 3.29% achieved during 2016-17. The projected growth for the year 2018-19 is roughly estimated at 6.87%. 

​T​he per capita real income, i.e. per capita net state income at constant (2011-12) prices, for 2017-18 is estimated at Rs. 65615 as against the estimate of Rs 61349 for 2016-17. 

This indicates a growth of per capita real income of about 6.95 per cent during 2016-17. 

The ​budget has ​been ​transformed into four main sub-groups which are: 1. Economic Sector 2. Infrastructure sector 3. Social sector and 4. General service sector​.​

Similarly, Budget Estimation, Allocation & Monitoring System (BEAMS) has also been introduced by the Government to put the whole financial system on IT platform. The initiatives of the Government to shift from traditional Treasury System to Pay and Accounts Office System is also showcased and discussed. The initiatives of the Government to introduce Public Finance Management System (PFMS) is also prominent to showcase the progress.

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Budget 2018-18: people's expectations

Focus has to shift to rural agrarian economy - Dr Zahoor Ahmed Wani (Assistant Professor, GDC Kishtwar)

The upcoming budget should switch from urban centric policies to rural centric policies. Roads and buildings are essential amenities of life, but for sustenance of life agriculture and allied sectors are of primary importance. 


Most of the populations involved in these primary sectors live in rural areas. There is a need for increasing awareness among the farmers about utilization of the agrotech, hybrid seeds and modern scientific cultivation practices.


Apart from agriculture the budget should also focus on horticulture sector. As in view of the climate changing scenario worldover, it is said that horticulture will take over agriculture as a prime source of livelihood. Our state has a huge potential for horticulture, and it can serve as

an important source of livelihood for the coming generation.


Also there is dire need to revamp the health and education sector in rural areas. Model village concept should not be limited to providing street lights and concrete footpaths, rathe it should be based on some livelihood generating source, like model villages for handicrafts, model villages for woodcraft, model villages for cultivations of medicinal and aromatic plants,

model villages for apricot cultivations or apple cultivation or walnut cultivation, etc.


The budget should also focus on encouraging livestock industries and forest product based industries as well.

people's perspectives on budget 2018-19

Ziraat Times' Citizen Journalists bring from the ground farmers' perspectives and expectations on J&K Budget 2018-19. (Video: Mir Mussawir, ZT Citizen Journalist)

Ziraat Times' Citizen Journalists bring from the ground farmers' perspectives and expectations on J&K Budget 2018-19. (Video: Javed Wani, ZT Citizen Journalist)

engage in ziraat times debate on Budget 2018-19

State Budget 2018-19

The 2017-18 state budget allocated about 0.99% to the agricultural sector, while the sector's contribution to the State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP) is about 21%. There are two schools of thoughts about this anomaly. One thought has it that the financial allocation to the sector is a meagre one, not enough to propel the required productivity, growth and jobs creation in the sector.  


There is another opinion that believes that greater financial allocation for the sector would not necessarily translate into greater growth and productivity because of the "intrinsic" low absorption capacity in the sector.  


What do you think about these opinions? What the State Budget 2018-19 should focus on? Is greater state spending in the sector really necessary? Should there be more private investment-friendly policies in the sector? Can greater jobs still be created with more imaginative public policy frameworks in the sector? 


Do join Ziraat Times debate on the issue. Send us your thoughts at editor@ziraattimes.com. We will feature those in our special coverage on Budget 2018-19.   

Union budget 2018-19

Decisions taken in the union budgets have implications on states like Jammu & Kashmir. As a predominantly agrarian economy, Jammu & Kashmir is highly influenced by policy decisions in the areas of horticulture and agriculture. Incomes from and productivity in commodities like apples, saffron, almonds, walnuts, etc. are impacted by decisions taken in union budgets. Then there are the policy decisions taken in line with agreements through multilateral platforms like the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 


Ziraat Times will feature special coverage on the union budget 2018-19 this year, especially on the agricultural sector with implications on Jammu & Kashmir. 


In case you have any thoughts to share on  what interests of J&K state the union budget 2018-19 should take care of, please share with Ziraat Times at editor@ziraattimes.com. We will feature your thoughts in our special segment on the issue. 


Thank you.