Poor law & order situation has direct bearing on Kashmir’s economy: Newly elected KCCI president

  • Mukeet Akmali
  • Publish Date: Oct 15 2018 3:17AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 15 2018 3:17AM
Poor law & order situation has direct bearing on Kashmir’s economy: Newly elected KCCI presidentPhoto: Kashmir Ink

First of all congratulations for your win. Being elected as the president for second time, how do you see this opportunity?

Thanks, it is really encouraging to see that business fraternity took keen interest and elected representatives to lead them in a democratic process. Being elected for the second time is an honor for me as this chamber is the prestigious body which has been headed by great personalities of Kashmir from the business fraternity in the past. It is a challenge as well as an opportunity to work for the betterment of my people. Our team of United 21 made this pledge to work for the betterment of business community and what is more encouraging is the mandate that businessmen have given us. More than 1300 business houses participated in the process which is overwhelming sign for us.

What are your priorities?

First and foremost priority which is also our pledge is unity of the business community.

 

What do you mean by unity of biz fraternity?

Unity within chamber as well as among each and every sector of economy. We have been elected through a democratic process which means voice of everybody has to be heard, we cannot afford to ignore any sector. Besides there is notion that chamber works for only affluent class which is not true. We are representatives of every segment of economy, be it exporter or a small trade. We have to be one in getting our economy on track and help our economy to leap forward. Infact we are also getting invitations from Kargil where traders want to be part of KCCI, it is an encouraging sign.

 

Of late Kashmir’s business community is complaining of slump in businesses? What are your thoughts on it?

It is a fact. Kashmir’s economy is passing through turbulent times. We are passing through tough times since 2014 floods, and then it was followed by 2016 where we lost six to seven working months which is a big loss for the business community. Then GST and other things compounded our problems, result is that economy is not doing well which is a worrying sign.

As the head of KCCI, I am aware about this situation. To overcome this issue, we have decided that our team will work also on holidays. It will be pilot project kind of thing. We will measure results and then ask other businessmen to follow this model to reduce losses and give them a chance to recover.

 

Means you want business community to work on all days of the week?

Yes, as we already have limited working days due to situation. But as of now we are not asking anybody to follow it. We are examining it at our level then we will ask others to do so.

 

You talked about situation. How do you see your role in diffusing the tension?

 

Civilian killings have to stop. As a part of KCCI, my team has decided to start mass connect with people who are at the helm of affairs. Be it meeting state head or somebody in New Delhi. Our concern is that civilian killings must stop. Every other thing is bi-product of situation, if situation is conducive businesses will flourish, if it is not, then result is in front of you.

Be it tourism or any other sector, conducive environment is must. It is Kashmiris who are facing brunt of the situation, our innocent children are getting killed, our economy is suffering because of none of our fault. It has to stop.

 

In the past, chamber has filed many representations of seeking return of power projects. What is the progress on this issue?

 

Unfortunately return of power projects has now become a political issue. Political parties are using it as a tool to gain power. But this issue was raised by KCCI and has made several representations to the central government as well as prime ministers seeking return of power project under control of NHPC.

Getting back power projects from the NHPC is the utmost requirement for the growth of business in Kashmir. We are suffering a great deal because our water resources lie with the NHPC. The KCCI will press for return of power projects. Our resources are being used for generating electricity and then sold to us at exorbitant rates, which is totally unjust. We are holding deliberations with experts and civil society to come up with a roadmap to get back these projects. We will soon come up with it. And another issue that has direct bearing on our economy is the road connectivity. Kashmir has single road link which connects it with the rest of the country. State government has been sloppy on developing other alternative roads like Mughal road and construction of tunnel to Leh. Similarly, Kashmir also has internet problem which affects our business. KCCI will work to remove these obstacles and hurdles which are affecting our economic growth. 

 

Has KCCI any plan for the uplift of artisans and craftsmen in Kashmir who are the backbone of the handicraft sector?

 

Artisans and craftsmen are our pride; they are unsung heroes of our society who have been marginalized. It is irony that while the handicraft sector has witnessed an unprecedented growth during last decade, the people behind this success have not reaped the benefits. KCCI will play a proactive role in uplifting their lot and help them in getting the benefits which otherwise are taken by money lenders and agents. Artisans are our ‘Golden Hands’ which have made us famous throughout the world and the chamber will try its best to give them their due share.  Artisans have suffered a lot: be it the intrusion of machine made items or sale of fake handicraft items in the name of Kashmir handicraft.

 

What has been the KCCI doing to promote Kashmir export industry and horticulture?

Horticulture is mainstay of our economy. We will sit with our expert committee to see what are the issues confronting them and how to move forward in redressing them. The chamber has asked state government to organize buyer-seller meets regularly and our members are continuously attending different fares at outside places to promote our exports.

 

Any advice to Kashmir youth?

Kashmiri youth are talented lot, I feel you just need to give them a chance and they would excel. But at the same time they should keep in mind that they must put in efforts to work for uplift of society. Profit and loss is part of the business but what matter is how much you have contributed to the society be it in little capacity. During my last tenure, I was the youngest president of KCCI ever; I somehow neglected my flourishing business to work for my community, which ultimately gave me more satisfaction than profit earned in rupees.