National Conference on Tuesday termed the 2016 State Budget presented by Finance Minister Dr. Haseeb Drabu as mediocre and disappointing and said it lacked imagination and empathy. National Conference Spokesperson Junaid Mattu said the only saving grace in the budget speech was a newly discovered, misplaced sense of humor by a Finance Minister who remains indifferent towards the misery and sufferings of hundreds and thousands of flood victims in the State.
“Dr. Haseeb Drabu’s famed magic wand has failed to deliver for the second time – and on both these instances our flood victims have been the worst sufferers of his flawed priorities. This budget – as expected – is an unimpressive cosmetic exercise to claim credit where none has been duly earner and has only cataloged this government’s irresponsible and indifferent attitude. Seems like Dr. Drabu was too busy focusing on monthly tea allowances for Cabinet Ministers and waiving non-existent fees as tributes to flatter the Chief Minister than to actually remember how his party had promised the ‘complete, just and dignified’ rehabilitation of flood victims”, the NC Spokesperson said in a statement issued from Party Headquarters in Srinagar.
The NC Spokesperson also lashed out at the PDP-BJP Government for choosing to penalize the Tourism Industry when it should have rather helped tourism players to revive their businesses after the devastation of 2014 floods. “The Finance Minister has decided to increase the aviation turbine fuel levy up from 20 to 25 per cent and this will directly hit the tourism sector in the State and result in in. The increase in aviation fuel levy will increase travel costs and reduce the inflow of tourists into the State. There are also apprehensions that this step would force carriers to reduce number of flights coming into the State – ironically at a time when the State Government should have focused on incentivizing and facilitating an increased connectivity to boos tourism – a practice adopted to great success in other tourism destinations. The Finance Minister has humiliated the tourism sector players by going completely against their pleas to come to the rescue of the tourism sector. As an effective measure to help the Tourism Industry to achieve an economic revival after the 2014 floods, the Finance Minister should have accepted the demand of giving industrial benefits in terms of subsidies and tax waivers to the Tourism Industry”, the NC Spokesperson added.
“The Finance Minister has failed to acknowledge the severe distress in the Horticulture Sector and has ignored repeated suggestions from horticulturists and orchardists to take decisive steps to alleviate their grievances. Horticulture forms the backbone of our economy along with Tourism and the Finance Minister has ignored both these sectors in the Budget. Similarly the Finance Minister has failed to address the decline in the saffron exports. There is no mention of artisans – nor any specific initiatives to facilitate their empowerment”, the NC Spokesperson further stated.
NC Spokesperson also expressed disappointment on the complete and conspicuous absence of any initiatives to tackle growing rates of unemployment in the State. “The PDP-BJP Government has already abandoned visionary self-employment and skill-development schemes of the previous Omar Abdullah-led Government. They have failed to announce schemes and packages to train our unemployed youth as per the demands of the job market. There is a dire need to increase employment outcomes for our youth and this Government has yet again failed on that front. This is an anti-youth Government that has scant regard for the dreams and future of our youth”, the NC Spokesperson said.
“The Finance Minister’s refusal to spell out a time-frame for the return of power projects – modalities for which he claims are being drawn out – is a reminder of this Government’s lies and U-turns. The Finance Minister should openly state that the Union Power Minister is lying when he says no power projects will be returned to the State. You cannot remain silent in deference to the Union Power Minister when he categorically refuses to even consider your demands and then make such contradictory claims in the Legislative Assembly to save your skin”, the NC Spokesperson added.