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J-K govt seeks tax exemption for flood-hit tourism sector

Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to seek from the Centre a slew of concessions including income tax exemption and interest-free loans for tourism sector that has suffered nearly Rs 1700 crore of losses due to the floods.

“We are preparing a proposal to be submitted to the Centre for seeking some concessions for tourism industry which has suffered heavy losses due to the floods,” a senior official of the Tourism Department told PTI.

One of the major demands is exempting the hotels and other tourism-related establishments from income-tax for the current financial year, the official said.

“The exemption shall apply only to those tourism-related establishments which are already registered with the department,” he said.

The official said hundreds of hotels have suffered losses due to waterlogging especially in Rajbagh and Dalgate areas.

“Hundreds of hotels had one storey of the building under flood water, which translates into damage for furnishings, linen and other equipment. The hoteliers will need money for making their establishments functional again,” he said.

The official said the department will seek interest-free one-year loans for those hotels, houseboats and guest houses which do not need much money for repairs and renovations.

“Those establishments which need higher quantum of funds shall be given soft loans, may be at four per cent rate, for making their units functional again,” he added.

The official said the department will also approach the RBI for relaxing the lending guidelines for loans to the tourism sector in the flood-hit state.

He said while the overall losses to tourism infrastructure were at Rs 1700 crore, the state-owned facilities like hotels have suffered loss of over Rs 200 crore.

The Centre has announced authorisation of Rs 100 crore reconstruction of tourism sector but the official said the funds granted will take some time to come.

“We will have to submit detailed project reports for utilising the Rs 100 crore announced by the Centre. Given the procedures involved, I think we will get this money somewhere in February next year,” he added.

Several hotels owned by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation on the banks of Dal Lake have also suffered heavy losses.

The department has released Rs two crore for renovation of these hotels as these are used as accommodation for government employees working in the civil secretariat.

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