Srinagar, Dec 31: The already dwindling economy of Kashmir has suffered a loss of Rs 150 crore per day this year due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.Â
According to an assessment report by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the Valley's economy suffered losses of Rs 150 crore on an everyday basis during the period of a pandemic.Â
KCCI divided the loss assessment report in four phases from August 2019 to August 2020.
The first phase starts from 5 August 2019 to 5 December 2019 and loss stated to be was Rs 18,000 crore.Â
The phase second starts from 6 December 2019 to 21 March 2020 and losses incurred during this period was Rs 67.5 crore.Â
"During this period the markets were partially opened, the business was slowly reviving. The economy was operating at 50 per cent to 60 per cent of its potential," said Sheikh Ashiq, President KCCI said.Â
He further said that during this period tourism which is considered to be one of the backbones of Kashmir economy remained in shambles. Internet gags paralysed the economy completely. Artisans and weavers were left jobless.Â
"Alone our tourism sector contributes Rs 12000 crore to the economy while trade contributes Rs 12 000 to Rs 13000 crore annually and both these sectors were left crippled," said Bashir Kongposh, General Secretary, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF).Â
The phase third started from 22 March to 31st March 2020 and losses suffered during this period were Rs 10,500 crore.Â
"It tantamount to Rs 150 crore every day. After Government of India announced countrywide lockdown. Kashmir's economy was in trouble already,Â the total loss for this period was estimated to be around Rs 10,500 crore," Ashiq remarked.Â
Then came the final phase starting from June 1 to June 31 2020.Â
"There was a huge job loss during this period. The intermittent lockdown further deteriorated the economy. In this period economy operated at 40 to 50 per cent of its potential which amounts to a daily loss of Rs 82.5 crore and total loss Rs 5032.5 crore," he said.Â
So, the total loss of four phases equals up to 40,633 crores.Â
"We can say that 25 per cent of our GSDP economy eroded during this time," Ashiq added.Â
Kashmir Economic Alliance estimation
According to an analysis of Kashmir Economic Alliance, one of Kashmir's leading trade body, during a pandemic loss on every day basis is as following:
Transport sector suffered a loss of Rs 5 crore, while the service sector faced the loss of Rs 10 crore. The tourism sector suffered a loss of Rs 15 crore while handicrafts faced Rs 5 crore loss. The agriculture and horticulture faced the loss of Rs 5 crore and Industries suffered a loss of Rs 10 crore. When it comes to trade it has suffered a huge loss of Rs 60,000 crore in this year.Â
"This year brought a big jolt to the economy of Kashmir. It was already battered it was further deteriorated by the pandemic," said KEA President Yasin Khan.
Business close down
Leading businessmen of the valley said there are many business establishments that have closed down as losses have gone beyond imagination.Â
"We are pushed back to five decades. It will take us 20 years to get back to where we were such is the condition of the market right now," said KTMF General Secretary Bashir Kongposh.Â
Shafat Ahmad, manager at Liberty showroom said that he doesn't know how to start back.
"We have suffered so much first because of Abrogation of Article 370 and now due to this pandemic," he said.
Sheikh Ashiq said that 2021 would be the year when balance sheets of companies would be bleeding as companies are at severe loss.Â
According to Bashir Kongposh government should give a boost to tourism so that tourists return to the valley and economy gets stable.Â
"There should be relaxations on air fares, taxes etc so that the burden of common man gets lessened," he said.
Sheikh Ashiq said that the continuous ban on 4G internet has cost them heavily. Online business is contemplating on closure, there is huge job loss. He said more than 5 lakh people have been rendered jobless.Â
"Internet is our basic right and we are being deprived of it. It's a must for export businesses like handicrafts. They have to send files over to their clients through WhatsApp and doing that on 2G is an arduous task," he said.
Junaid who runs his online business said that he faces many difficulties in sending across his products to the customers due to low internet speed.Â
"I can't send bulk pictures to my customers so it's not possible on 2G," he said.
Sana, who runs her cake business complains of the same. "Internet had completely shattered my business I am totally reliant on Instagram to sell my products. I suffered a huge set back because of internet gag," she said.Â
Sheikh Ashiq said that in the month of September, LG Manoj Sinha announced a Rs 1,350 crore economic stimulus package to rebuild the economy and encourage business for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The package has been announced to help the business community overcome the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic but there should be 100 per cent implementation of this announcement," he said.