J&K govt accountable for every rupee spent on ground after revoking Article 370: Sitharaman

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/24/2021 11:01:01 AM Front Page

I want banks in J&K to build floors of opportunities, says LG

Jammu: Asserting that abrogation of Article 370 was the biggest favour to the people for a transparent, accountable and democratised government in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the territorial administration is now accountable for every rupee that is deployed on the ground.
She further said the entire administration in the Union Territory is now visible to every person of Jammu and Kashmir to see what is going on here.
"For that (bringing discipline, fiscal management and financial health of J&K), I would honestly thank the abrogation of Article 370. If that (Article 370) was an obstruction for bringing in a transparent, accountable and democratised government, we have done ourselves a biggest favour by that abrogation," Sitharaman told a press conference at Raj Bhawan in the evening.
"It cannot be about a few families. The money of the people should go to the people and it should be a transparent process. That has been achieved in J&K. I have learnt from it during the last two days," she said.
The finance minister was replying to a volley of questions about gross indiscipline of fiscal management and ailing economic health, the biggest problems faced by J&K after terrorism due to backdoor appointments, overdrafts, delayed projects, parking of money and corruption during previous governments.
"I think in the last two years (after abrogation of Article 370), the work that has happened is absolutely stunning," she said.
Sitharaman said the procurements, recruitments and spending of its resources, taxation and employment of resources by the government are available online 24x7.
"The transparent processes in recruitments. Even recruitment to junior-most levels has been completely rid of backdoor operations. In a state, where probably more than 5 lakh are government employees, nearly 2.50 lakh are clearly backdoor people," she said.
She further added that this kind of approach to governance is absolutely unheard of in J&K. "For that, I would honestly thank the abrogation of Article 370," the minister said.
Responding to another question that J&K has recorded 22.2 percent unemployment during the current period as compared to 4 per cent during previous periods, she said several schemes have been launched by the government to ensure employment to youth.
The schemes have resulted in youth being taken back in their jobs by their employers and fresh recruitment done by new units, she said but added that it was a pan-India phenomenon.
She said that after abrogation of Article 370, the economy was not affected at all in the UT. "On the contrary, post abrogation, there is fervour to complete all pending projects in UT also. Today, I was astonished to know that a project started in 1979 is getting completed now."
Not only old projects but new activities are taking place at a fast pace, she said.
She also all the money taken away from the banks will be taken back as the government is actively pursuing the cases of loan defaulters and will not let them go scot-free, particularly those who have fled the country.
She said the central government is working in close coordination with the J&K administration to ensure that not only the Prime Minister's Development Package (PMDP) but every centrally sponsored scheme benefits every citizen of the Union territory.
The finance minister was addressing a function after launching new schemes and handing over orders to various beneficiaries under the financial inclusion and credit outreach programme here.
Sitharaman said that while the government is generously putting all its resources to make J&K work well in a transparent way, "any wrongdoing that has happened in the banks, any loans that have been taken away and not repaid till now, I am sure our system will work in such a way that the wrongdoers and the money...will be brought back."
The finance minister said that is what has been happening in the entire country.
"The non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks had been a cause for worry when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. In order to bring down the NPAs, a specific '4Rs' strategy of recognition, resolution, recapitalisation and reforms showed immediate results," she said.
Sitharaman reached Jammu on the second leg of her two-day tour from Kashmir and also inspected various stalls put up by various beneficiaries of government schemes.
She said the government pursued the defaulters who took away the loans and let it become the NPA and did not pay back the taxpayers' money that is what is in the banks, whether they are in this country or have gone away from India.
The government ensured that their properties are attached, and through a legal process, sold or auctioned out and that money have been paid back to the banks, she added.
"This shall continue to happen, irrespective of where the NPAs holders are and irrespective of where their accounts were. Every NPA shall be pursued actively and that shall apply to J&K as well," she said adding "we shall get back all the money taken away from the banks".
Speaking to reporters here, Sitharaman said, "We shall not let go any defaulters (scot-free), particularly those, who have fled the country."
Sitharaman said, "We will get the assets back through the courts to give it back to the banks".
She was replying to a question whether the central government has seized the assets and properties of two big loan defaulters liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamantaire Nirav Modi to get money back to the banks and what has government done to seek their extradition.
"First of all, every time, Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya (are raked up) - why two names only? There are many more names, you can add, if you want," She said.
Sitharaman pointed towards NPA during the previous UPA rule and said that in every one of these cases, I say with a certain sense of responsibility that NPA used to happen earlier.
She said money is returning back to respective banks through due process in the courts. "It is an ongoing process," she reiterated.
The Union finance minister lauded J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who was also present on the occasion, for the development of the Union Territory in a "speedy, efficient and transparent" manner.
She assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the Centre will work in close coordination with the local administration to ensure that not only the PMDP is implemented but every scheme that is launched is also brought to the Union Territory and benefits every beneficiary who deserved to be served.
"After 2019 (reorganisation of J&K), we have seen the UT of J&K go through a rapid progression. The projects that have been waiting for a long time are getting implemented and sections of the society that have never had the opportunity of receiving any assistance from the government are getting it," the finance minister said.
She said the schemes for the poorer sections that benefited the people across the country from a collective infusion of credit through farmer producer organisations or self-help groups are now seeing the light of the day in J&K.
Seeking the cooperation of the people in facilitating outsiders to set up their units in Jammu and Kashmir, she said a lot of people want to come and set up industry here and take benefit from the industrial package of the government.
In reply to a separate question about the threat of dharna by the opposition in support of CAA after the success of farmers agitation, she said the government takes calls that are mature and a call that always keeps the nation on top priority.
"Every decision of this government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps the nation on the top," she said.
Sitharaman inaugurated works pertaining to health, education, urban infrastructure, and disaster management and laid the foundation stones of several projects in Jammu and Srinagar capital cities of the Union Territory.
Earlier, addressing function, LG highlighted the vital role of Credit outreach programmes and Smart Lending in enabling the government policies to reach all sections of the society.
“The mega Credit Outreach campaign in all the districts which will give impetus to the economic activities and ensure that credit is easily accessible to the needy,” LG said.
“I always believe that capital gaps must be bridged for transition in small scale and cottage industries. The credit constraints cannot be a new normal when our capacity to invent new ideas is competing for recognition,” he added.
He also underlined the need to forge a strong partnership between banks and business entities for greater investment, growth, innovation, and employment. I want the banks in J&K Union Territory to build floors of opportunities, not the walls, the Lt Governor added.
While speaking on the key features of new initiatives and schemes being launched today, the Lt Governor said that the banking sector along with business institutions associated with its programs and beneficiaries of government’s schemes, all together are committed to promoting resourcefulness in the UT.
Financial assistance of Rs 290 crore to business institutions, NABARD’s Farmer-Producer Organization, PNB’s 'Shikhar' and 'Shikara' schemes and SIDBI’s Rs 200 crore Cluster Development Fund will bring new economic reform in J&K, said the Lt Governor.
He further said that the Rural Self Employment Training Institutes will prove to be a milestone for providing skill training and skill up-gradation to rural youth.
Today, the Government’s policies and credit outreach facilities are meeting the needs of common citizens, youth, women, business institutions, voluntary organizations, rural self-help groups, and farmer-producer organizations and building a strong, prosperous, and future-oriented Union Territory.
“Department of Financial Services is making strenuous efforts to accomplish the goal of AatmaNirbhar Bharat. I am certain small and medium enterprising sectors, Farmers, young entrepreneurs will fully reap the benefits of more diversified financial offers,” he added

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