SRINAGAR — In a major relief to the artisans and weavers, the Government on Thursday notified two new schemes to provide fillip to the famed handicrafts and handloom sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

The capital infusion shall provide much-needed financial support and credit facility to the traditional craft industry which has been adversely affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.

In a first, the Government announced a new financial support scheme for Cooperatives/SHGs registered in the Handicrafts and Handloom Department under the J&K Self Reliant Cooperative Act, 1999 by replacement of the existing Managerial Subsidy Scheme.

Under the scheme, each Cooperative/SHG shall be provided a one-time financial support of Rs. 1.00 lakh in two equal installments of Rs. 50,000/- each. The funds shall be transferred to the beneficiary Cooperative/SHG through DBT mode only.

An annual target of 2000 Cooperatives/SHGs has been fixed for implementation in both rural and urban areas of the Union Territory.

Under the Managerial Subsidy Scheme, each Cooperative was earlier provided only Rs. 19,104/- over a period of three years and there had been no revision or enhancement in the subsidy since 1975.

The Government also announced a new Credit Card Scheme for Artisans and Weavers of the Handicrafts and Handloom sector by subsuming the Credit Card Scheme for Artisans and Micro-Credit Plan Scheme for Weavers in the erstwhile Handicrafts and Handloom Departments.

Under the scheme, the loan slab has been enhanced from existing Rs. 1.00 lakh to Rs. 2.00 lakh with interest subsidy of 7% for a period of five years from the date of disbursement of the loan.

All artisans and weavers who are duly registered with the Handicrafts and Handloom Department and are involved in production and manufacturing processes shall be eligible for credit facility under the scheme.

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The objective of the Scheme is to provide adequate and timely assistance to the artisan community from the financial institutions to meet their credit requirement of both investment needs as well as working capital in a flexible and cost-effective manner.

The annual target under the scheme has been fixed at 5000 in J&K, with break-up of 4000 artisans in handicrafts and 1000 weavers in the handloom sector.

Both the schemes have been notified on the recommendations made in the J&K Wool Processing, Handicrafts & Handloom Policy – 2020 which has been adopted vide Government Order No. 54-IND of 2020, dated 10.03.2020. The operational guidelines have also been notified along with the schemes for hassle-free implementation.

Government to allow local purchases in GeM

In yet another step towards the relief & revival of the business sector in J&K and to encourage local procurement in line with the principle of “Vocal for Local”, the Government is going to allow local purchases in GeM, thereby increasing the marketability of goods and services provided by local units. The step will go a long way in boosting the local economy as local entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and suppliers will get preference.

Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha had directed for constitution of a committee to analyze the problems and for recommending measures for the relief and revival of the business sector in J&K after taking cognizance of the issues raised by stakeholders of the local business sector in the region. The committee held consultations with the various business organizations and subsequently, a mega relief and revival package of Rs. 1350 crore was announced to help the J&K business sector to tide over their problems.

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One of the major demands that was put forth by the local industry was to allow purchases made from the local industry or waiver from Government e-Marketplace (GEM).

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, the matter was taken up by the UT Government with the Union Government, for adding a provision of the local filter in GeM portal, so that the supplies locally available within the UT could be procured from the local suppliers through GeM. The Union Government today approved the proposal for provision of local filter for purchases on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) Portal for enabling local purchases.

The communication from the Finance Ministry, Government of India mentions that the proposal of GeM has been agreed to for one year to be used by buyers in appropriate circumstances after due justification and reasonability of rates.

The local industry also enjoys an advantage regarding the ability to make timely supplies in areas where the terrain is tough and conditions become harsh at times due to weather or other logistic adversities.

Besides increasing the marketability of goods and services provided by local units, it will further boost the local economy, as local sellers will get the preference. Moreover, it is going to address the long pending demand of entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and suppliers hailing from UT of J&K.

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