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FM to hold separate meeting for discussions on J&K budget soon

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman today held pre-budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of States and Union Territories with Legislature including Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha and listened to their suggestions for incorporation in the general budget for the Financial Year 2022-23.

The country’s general budget is presented in the Parliament by the Finance Minister in the budget session generally on February 1, while the budget of Jammu and Kashmir this year was presented on March 17.

This will be the third consecutive budget of Jammu and Kashmir which will be presented in the Parliament in the absence of the Legislative Assembly in the Union Territory because of delay in the conduct of Assembly elections.

While the Jammu and Kashmir Government issued no official statement, sources said the Lieutenant Governor spoke on reforms undertaken by the UT Government in the financial sector, including better expenditure management and sought liberal grants and funding for J&K in the general budget.

He was also reported to have briefed the meeting on tax collections by the Jammu and Kashmir administration in the current financial years.

“Discussions in today’s meeting were confined to the country’s general budget. For Jammu and Kashmir budget, Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to convene a separate meeting with the Lieutenant Governor and top officials of the civil administration of the Union Territory,” sources said.

For the current financial year of 2021-22, Jammu and Kashmir were given a Rs 1.08 lakh crore budget, and the administration is expecting a substantial hike for the next financial year of 2022-23. First, however, the amount will be finalized, taking into account the spending capacity of the Union Territory.

The Lieutenant Governor had recently stated that Jammu and Kashmir have already received investment proposals worth Rs 44,000 crore under the new Industrial Development Scheme. The investments are likely to touch Rs 60,000 crore shortly.

“The Government is confident that by the time budget of Jammu and Kashmir for the next Financial year of 2022-23 is presented in the Parliament, the investments would have reached Rs 60,000 crore,” the sources said.

The Finance Department of the Jammu and Kashmir Government has already completed the exercise for assessing requirements of different departments for next financial year’s budget in September and October, while pre-budget discussions with trade, industry and other such bodies have also been held in the Union Territory.

“All stakeholders have been taken on board. The suggestions given by them will also be incorporated in the budget to the maximum possible extent,” the sources said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had presented a Rs 1.08 lakh crore worth budget for 2021-22 for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in March this year in Parliament with a focus on Employment, Good Governance, Socio-Economic Development, Infrastructure, Agriculture & Horticulture and Atmanirbhar Bharat. She had projected the economy to grow at 7.5 per cent in the Union Territory.

This was for the second successive year that the annual budget of Jammu and Kashmir was tabled in the Parliament in the absence of Legislature in the Union Territory due to delay in Assembly elections.

The budget of Jammu and Kashmir for the year 2022-23 will be the third consecutive in the Parliament as there was no scope of conduct of Assembly elections within the next few months.

“The budget for 2021-22 for J&K will again cross Rs 1 lakh crore mark, an indicator of our commitment to make the UT a model of development. The total budget estimates for the fiscal is Rs 1,08,621 crore, of which development expenditure is of the order of Rs 39,817 crore,” Sitharaman had said in her budget speech.

Meanwhile, an official statement released by the Union Ministry of Finance after today’s meeting said: “Nirmala Sitharaman chaired the pre-budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of States and Union Territories (with Legislature) for Union Budget 2022-23 here today. The meeting was attended by Union Minister of State for Finance, Chief Ministers, Deputy Chief Ministers, Finance Ministers, Ministers and Senior Officers from the States and Union Territories (with Legislature) and the Union Government”.

The statement said the Union Finance Secretary welcomed all the participants to the deliberation and informed the importance of this particular consultation meeting. Most of the participants thanked the Union Finance Minister for financially supporting their States/Union Territories during the worst months of the pandemic by enhancing borrowing limits, providing back to back loans to States, and special assistance for capital expenditure. “The participants also gave the Union Finance Minister numerous suggestions for inclusion in the Budget Speech. The Finance Minister thanked the participants for their inputs and suggestions towards Union Budget 2022-23 and assured to examine each of the proposals”.

Jammu

Delegation of Jammu University Teachers’ Association calls on Lt Governor

Today, the office-bearers of the Jammu University Teachers’ Association called on Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhawan.

The delegation led by the President of the Association, Prof. Pankaj Srivastava, submitted a memorandum of demands to the Lt Governor pertaining to various welfare issues of the teachers of the University including promotion under CAS; grant of earned leave and enhancement of the age of superannuation to 65 years in favour of teachers, and various other benefits as per UGC regulations, besides establishment of housing society exclusively for University teachers.

The Lt Governor, while interacting with the delegation members, advised them to make continuous efforts to create a conducive environment for learning and innovation in the University.

The Lt Governor assured them that the issues projected would be looked into meticulously for their early redressal.

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Jammu

JKP Border Battalion aspirants submit memorandum to Div Com Jammu

Today, a delegation of aspirants seeking recruitment in the Jammu and Kashmir Police Border Battalion called on Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Raghav Langer.

The Aspirants apprised the Divisional Commissioner that they had applied for the post of Head Constable advertised by the Jammu and Kashmir Police Recruitment Board in 2019 and appeared in Physical and medical tests. But now, the JKP HQRS (police recruitment board) has reissued an advertisement notification for the recruitment of Head Constable in the border battalion.

The Aspirants demanded the withdrawal of the new advertisement issued by JKP HQRS. They further appealed to conduct the written examination of already qualified candidates and give a separate ad for more vacancies.

The Divisional Commissioner gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured that the matter would be taken up with police authorities.

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COVID 19

Centre extends COVID-19 restrictions till February 28

On Thursday, the Central Government extended the existing COVID-related restrictions until February 28 because of the rising COVID-19 and Omicron variants.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the order directing all the states and the Union Territories (UTs) to instruct their local and district administrations to promptly take containment measures against the threat of the Omicron variant based on their assessment of the situation.

Taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at the district and local level, as conveyed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the MHA order mentioned that COVID restrictions “will remain in force till February 28, 2022.”

“In exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the undersigned hereby directs that the Order of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ of even number dated December 27, 2021, to ensure compliance to the normative framework for taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at district and local level, as conveyed vide Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) dated December 21, 2021, will remain in force up to February 28, 2022,” the order mentioned.

According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday, the order was issued when India logged 2,86,384 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 40,371,500.
As per the order, containment measures have been extended to February 28.

“Due to the current COVID wave, led by the new variant, Omicron, there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID cases in the country and the active cases have increased to over 22 lakhs. Though a majority of active cases are recovering fast and a low percentage of cases are in hospitals, it is still a matter of concern that 407 districts in 34 States and UTs are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent,” the order said.

Therefore, looking at the current trends of the COVID virus, the order said there is a need to exercise caution and vigilance.

Against this background, the order issued by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “I would like to reiterate that all the states/UTs must observe all precautions and not let the guard down”.

“Based on the normative framework, mentioned in the MoHFW dated December 21, 2021, and assessment of the situation, local/district administration should continue to take prompt and appropriate containment measures.”

The order directs “imposition and lifting of local curbs or restrictions dynamic and based on the case positivity and hospitalisation status at the local level”.

It also emphasised that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy– Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

“The state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of COVID Appropriate Behaviour– wearing of face masks and maintaining safe social distancing in all public areas/gatherings,” the order further reads.

Further, states and UTs are advised to continue holding regular media briefings to disseminate the right information and discourage any misinformation on new variants of concern.

It is also urged to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned to take the measures required for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new VOC and strict enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

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Covid-19 Stats

28 Jan 2022, 5:01 AM (GMT)

Coronavirus Stats

40,622,709 Total Cases
492,356 Death Cases
38,024,771 Recovered Cases

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