The cross LoC traders have welcomed the government’s decision of providing banking facilities for the business, but expressed dismay that the settlement would be done in US Dollar.
The traders demand that the settlement be done in Indo-Pak currencies to facilitate and boost trade.
General Secretary Salamabad Cross LoC Trade Union Hilal Turkey and Secretary JK Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries Aijaz Mir hailed the decision of the Mehbooba Mufti-led government.
Turkey said that the banking facilitation would surely boost the trade but trading through US Dollar will hamper it.
“The trade is between two parts of the divided states and not between two countries (India and Pakistan). Trading through US dollar may not be acceptable to some parties as that will create controversies and hamper the business,” Turkey said.
The trade leader said that chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is taking a courageous step which was taken by former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
The cross-LoC trade, which began in October 2008 as a confidence building measure by India and Pakistan during the PDP-Congress government, takes place mainly though the Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote routes between the two parts of the divide Jammu and Kashmir.
The trade is going on through barter system and facilitation through banking was the demand of the traders on both the sides. And 21 listed items (of mainly garments, handicrafts, carpets, agricultural items) are bartered between the traders.
However, the government on Wednesday endorsed the proposed institutional mechanism to provide banking facilities to traders for conducting their business across the Line of Control.
The banking mechanism will help the trade to grow much faster and enable import and export of listed commodities at a larger scale and faster pace. It will address the regulatory aspects related to the trade between India and Pakistan, the government said.
“It is one of the confidence building measures and we hope that Mehbooba Mufti as CM will further help to boost it. Started banking facility is a huge step, but we will pitch for currencies of India and Pakistan,” Turkey said.
Secretary JK Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries Aijaz Mir said over phone from Muzaffarabad that the ending the barter system in the trade and starting banking facilities is an “appreciable step” of the JK government. Mir too opposed the trade in US dollar.
He said that barter system is creating huge hindrances in the trade, and from 1000 traders in 2008, only 500 traders are doing business now. He said that from 21 listed items in 2008 only 5 are now traded today.
“The trade will get enhanced if is made a free trade. So far only those items are traded which are produced in the two parts of the divided Jammu and Kashmir. And these items are sold in markets in Lahore and New Delhi. Adding more items and making it a free trade will certainly make it more meaningful and boost economy and improve relations between two countries,” he said.