Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) Muhammad Yasin Khan talks to Rameez Makhdoomi in an exclusive interview for Kashmir Media Watch.
How does business community in Kashmir view BJP’s thumping win?
The mood is not certainly upbeat. As far as this government is concerned, we thought after demonetisation no disaster will again befall us GST happened. This government should go on course-correction and lay to rest fears of business community as, during its last term, we have witnessed the business at its lowest with virtually no effective trade.
Why couldn’t the business fraternity stop the implementation of GST?
We had made it clear to the state government of that time to ensure that GST was not implemented or if it was, it should be a special format that suits our special status and also the business atmosphere here. It is clearly the failure of that government of that time and opposition and business community had no role to play in getting GST to state.
It is alleged that business bodies could not prevent entry of non-professionals into cross LoC trade which resulted in its doom.
You’re right, but India and Pakistan governments are to be majorly blamed for this as they laid no legalities and framework for it. They took the decisions in haste.
Cross loc trade was set on paradigm of barter trade and given in immature hands. It was a big confidence building measure and bridge but India, Pakistan are equally responsible for its decay.
Is it now forgone conclusion that days of cross LoC trade are over?
I don’t think so. If the govts of India and Pakistan take concrete measures they can still save this great CBM.
Post 2016 agitation it is alleged that business leadership and organizations of Kashmir have been more political rather than business in nature. Your take.
We have to bear in mind that in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the shutdowns and unrest have biggest impact on traders of Kashmir as sword falls on them, abnormal situations definitely lead us to do things out of our domain. Our Prime concern remains revival of trade and commerce in Kashmir.
Tourism has gone out of track and hotels are unoccupied. Why are we failing to diversify our business to health and education sector?
The tourism sector of Kashmir is definitely facing huge problems but to diversify our business to education and health sectors is possible only when the situation is normal as abnormal situation hurts everything.
You have written to the Governor on traffic mess. Tell us something about it.
We have written to the Governor that traffic mess is creating problems for all. We also have made clear that traffic department is facing huge shortage of human resource which is main reason of mess.
Too many trade or business bodies, doesn’t that hurt your cause?
Such mushrooming of organization is normal in a conflict zone but it is heartening that both the people and governments are aware who are the real business leaders and trade bodies.
How do you view future of business in Kashmir?
The business in Kashmir is at historical low, trade-in quite down and the profits are nearly negligible.
Today multiple problems have engulfed business sector in Kashmir. The traders are unable to pay loans. We are not losing hope but by practical analysis the business future looks quite bleak.
Your message to young entrepreneurs of Kashmir especially those starting.
The youth should in view of downslide in tourism and trade sector shifted focus to agriculture and horticulture as these sectors in Kashmir have huge potential which needs to be tapped.
Shutdown calls are rare now. How do you see it?
The cutting down on shutdown calls has definitely happened in recent past and it has certainly helped business activity.