Valley's economy hit, traders can't file GST returns

Valley's economy hit, traders can't file GST returns

Security personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

The business community and students in Kashmir have been left in the lurch due to the communication blockade for the last 20 days in the Valley.

Traders are struggling to submit taxes owing to continuous internet blockade. “Around this time of the year, the business community is required to file annual Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns and undertake e-billing. But alas the entire process has taken a hit,” Imtiyaz Ahmad, a trader told DH.

“In the prevailing circumstances, it is impossible to file the returns. We have been caught in a devil and deep sea like situation,” he said, urging the government to extend the date of submission of returns.

There is concern among traders that their bank loans may turn up into NPAs, if the situation persists. “While banks continue to charge interest on loans, we are not earning even a single penny. How will we repay loans? I fear in coming months, most of these will turn into NPAs,” Ahmad worries.

An official of District Industries Centre (DIC) Srinagar said e-registration and registration of businesses and industrial units are bound to suffer, if the internet gag continues.

"Several young entrepreneurs, who want to avail the benefits of government schemes are unable to do so. Some new companies which were in the process of being enrolled with Ministry of Corporate Affairs have also been hit,” he said.

According to a study by International Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a Delhi-based think-tank, frequent internet shutdowns in Kashmir have caused a body-blow to the Valley’s economy, resulting in losses worth Rs 4000 crores during last six years.

The student community is also a worried lot. “The students are in a dilemma. Neither they are able to attend classes nor do they have access to the Internet. How will they prepare for competitive exams in such a situation?” asked Irshad Quershi, whose son is preparing for engineering admission.

Like 2016, a few affluent families are now planning to send their wards to outside states to continue their studies, though they fear losing contact with them in the absence of mobile and phone connectivity.