Kash­mir worst state for busi­ness: WB

Views from Sri­na­gar

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR -

NISSAR BHAT NEMPLOYMENT is one of the grave prob­lems Jammu and Kash­mir has been fac­ing. The shortcuts that we have over the years used to deal with this did not work ob­vi­ously for the rea­son that this prob­lem could not in­trin­si­cally be dealt with shortcuts. It needs vi­brant pol­icy in­ter­ven­tion.

Fi­nance min­is­ter was right in point­ing out there is ur­gent need to have a new pol­icy vis-à-vis the cur­rent sce­nario and not the one for­mu­lated decades ago. But be­fore work­ing on such a pol­icy, we need to have a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of all those mea­sures adopted over the years in this re­gard. We need to find out why such mea­sures failed.

One of the fun­da­men­tal flaws with gov­ern­ment pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions has been that they have not been able to do away with the gov­ern­ment-job-de­pen­dency-syn­drome in Kash­mir. In­stead, many gov­ern­ment poli­cies have proved harm­ful than help­ful in this re­gard. Like for ex­am­ple, when all over the world the de­vel­oped economies have fa­cil­i­tated shift­ing of peo­ple from the agri­cul­ture to­wards the in­dus­try and ser­vice sec­tors for the pur­pose of achiev­ing growth across sec­tors, we have done some­thing that is un­heard of.

We have brought peo­ple out from the agri­cul­ture

Uto en­gage in gov­ern­ment sec­tor as re­hbar-e-taleems, re­hbar-e-zi­rats, etc. By do­ing so we have done dis­ser­vice both to the agri­cul­ture as well as to the gov­ern­ment sec­tor! While on the one hand we have bur­dened our state ex­che­quer, on the other we have made the agri­cul­tur­ally rich Kash­mir a net food im­port­ing state. Not that we should not have shifted peo­ple from the agri­cul­ture— where there is huge un­der­em­ploy­ment. But their shift­ing should have been for in­dus­try and ser­vice sec­tors and those re­main­ing in the agri­cul­ture should have been strength­ened with ev­ery pos­si­ble sup­port by the gov­ern­ment.

Se­condly, al­though we have an in­dus­trial pol­icy in place of­fer­ing am­ple in­cen­tives for es­tab­lish­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing units, we have not been able to pro­vide our en­trepreneurs the sup­port­ing at­mos­phere like in terms of bet­ter roads, elec­tric­ity, etc. Mod­ern day in­dus­tries thrive on road and com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­nec­tiv­ity that we are lack­ing in both.

Our gen­eral trade and com­merce too has suf­fered for want of bet­ter in­fras­truc­ture. The de­crepit in­ter-district road con­nec­tiv­ity is one of the ma­jor rea­sons sti­fling the growth of home grown in­dus­tries in the ru­ral belt in Kash­mir. Gov­ern­ments across the world cre­ate en­abling at­mos­phere for busi­nesses to grow, in­dus­tries to thrive, ser­vice to boom, but our story is dif­fer­ent. We don’t cre­ate en­abling at­mos­phere for across-the­board growth in dif­fer­ent sec­tors; we in­stead en­able youth to be­come more and more de­pen­dent on gov­ern­ment ser­vice.

The World Bank re­cently ranked Jammu and Kash­mir among the ‘worst states’ for busi­ness. In its re­port ‘All In­dia As­sess­ment of Busi­ness Re­forms’, Jammu and Kash­mir was ranked at 29th place among 32 states in In­dia in the list of ‘best per­form­ing states in im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­forms’.

This am­ply demon­strates the fail­ure of the suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments in the state to bring about nec­es­sary re­forms for the pro­mo­tion and growth of busi­ness and in­vest­ment in the state.

Ac­cord­ing to the list, only Megha­laya, Na­ga­land and Arunachal Pradesh are be­hind J&K, while Gu­jarat tops the list scor­ing 71.14 per cent in the sta­tus of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 98-point Re­forms agenda as against 5.93 per cent se­cured by Jammu and Kash­mir. While the po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty that has dogged this state over the years is surely one of the rea­sons for sti­fling the growth of its busi­ness and in­dus­try, the role of the suc­ces­sive state gov­ern­ments in this re­gard has not been en­cour­ag­ing ei­ther. That this state has so far failed to evolve and adopt a well-de­vised in­vest­ment pol­icy hav­ing po­ten­tial to at­tract large scale in­vest­ments into the state is shame.

Al­though, some may ar­gue that our in­vest­ment pol­icy of­fers am­ple in­cen­tives to the in­vestors, yet the point that needs to be pon­dered upon is as to why it has failed to bring in in­vest­ments into the state. At a time when other states in In­dia have at­tracted mas­sive in­vest­ments, why the state of Jammu and Kash­mir is starv­ing?

While the World Bank as­sess­ment is a se­ri­ous in­dict­ment of the suc­ces­sive state gov­ern­ments, it nonethe­less of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for the present coali­tion gov­ern­ment in the state to gear up and fo­cus on new ways and poli­cies to at­tract in­vest­ments.

The for­mer chief min­is­ter Mufti Muham­mad Say­eed had made cer­tain ef­forts by vis­it­ing some re­puted busi­ness houses in the coun­try invit­ing them to come to Kash­mir. Such ef­forts need to be con­tin­ued while si­mul­ta­ne­ously there is a lot of scope in im­prov­ing our in­vest­ment pol­icy. We need to im­prove upon the in­fras­truc­ture de­fi­cien­cies so as the in­vest­ment in Kash­mir be­comes eas­ier. Also, the state needs to en­cour­age the lo­cal in­vestors and NRKs to make in­vest­ments in the state.

In the back­wa­tered economies jobs re­main ob­scured in cer­tain sec­tors, while peo­ple try to find them else­where. That is our story. Let the gov­ern­ment help peo­ple find those jobs. The job is dif­fi­cult, but not im­pos­si­ble. —Cour­tesy: GK

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