Power development departments circular to hold back waiver on interest, penalty and surcharge on power arrears as announced in the 2018-19 state budget for industrialists, small scale industry unit holders, sick industries and hotels has drawn flak by the business community.
As per a circular of the Power Development Department (CEJ/TS-I/Amnesty/14897-916) “since the administrative department of PDD has not approved the budget announcement, the orders of the finance department to waive off the interest and penalty is advised not to be implemented”. The closing date fixed by then state cabinet for such amnesty has already expired in September which has created anxiety among industry and hotel players.
In June 2018, finance department had approved an amnesty scheme which was announced in state budget 2018 regarding waiver off 100 percent interest and penalty on all the power arrears as on January 31, 2017 owed to the government by industries, hoteliers and tourist resort owner, registered with the industries and tourism departments.
President, Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Muhammad Ashraf Mir said redressing the long pending demands of the business community of waiving-off the interest, penalty and surcharge on power dues was committed by the government but not fulfilled. Mir said the waiver has not been granted despite issuance of orders from finance department.
“The industry in the state especially Kashmir has borne the brunt of being under deep stress and for that then finance minister had extended the power amnesty for all the industry. Sick industry and businesses that were most affected by the unpredicted circumstances would have been given a breather with this amnesty. But government has failed to fulfil its commitment,” Mir said.
As per the terms of the amnesty scheme, industry and hospitality set-ups were asked to make the outstanding payment of power dues as on March 31 by or before September 30 in a maximum of three equal instalments. The order stated 100 percent waiver on “interest and penalty on power arrears as on December 31, 2017 owed to the government by the small scale industries registered with the department of industries subject to the condition that the outstanding payment of 31-03-2018 is paid by or before 30-09-2018 in a maximum of three equal instalments”.
Mir said most of the industry based power consumers took benefit of the government order and paid principal announcement which was made mandatory by the order but have been “left in lurch” by not fulfilling the budget announcement, Mir added.
“Now the industry is being denied benefits announced by the SRO. In these circumstances how can the industry trust any of incentives which government promises it,” Mir said.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation which recently met Chief Secretary BVR Subramanyam has raised the issue of non-fulfillment last budgetary announcements including the power amnesty. Sheikh Ashiq, president, KCCI said the circular issued by the PDD was neither desirable “nor is acceptable at any cost come what may” adding that issue of amnesty has been taken up in chamber meetings with Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce and the Chief Secretary of the state.
Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF), president, Wahid Malik said power amnesty for industrial and hospitality sector would provide relief to the hotel industry operating in distress and fragile conditions in the valley.