Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday announced an economic relief package of Rs 1,350 crore for the business sector to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, NDTV reported.

“We have approved an economic package of Rs 1,350 crore for Jammu and Kashmir’s struggling business community,” he said at a press conference. “This is additional to the benefits of the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan [self-reliant India], earlier announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Sinha added that all borrowers were exempt from stamp duty till March 2021.

Sinha, who took the oath of office last month, also announced a 50% discount on water and electricity for a year. “We will be spending Rs 105 crore on this,” he said. “This will benefit farmers, normal people, businessman and others.”

However, Rohit Kansal, principal secretary of power and information, later clarified that the discount was not on electricity and water bills, but on the fixed demand charges for industrial and commercial consumers.

The lieutenant governor said the administration was mulling a new policy for the industrial sector, which has also suffered huge losses after the abrogation of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5 last year.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a group of business firms in the Union Territory, had said it has suffered a loss of Rs 40,000 crore since the Centre bifurcated the former state into two Union Territories, according to Deccan Herald.

I strongly feel that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that a lot of money goes into creation of jobs, strengthening of businesses and coming together of families for a quick bounce-back of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy,” Sinha said, according to PTI. “I have twin objectives – ensure more money in people’s pockets and offer more opportunity for the revival of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy.”

Sinha also said the administration was planning a “structured package” for houseboat owners, transporters and others, adding that they have faced difficulties because of the continuous lockdowns in the Union Territory in the past two decades.

The lieutenant governor said that 5% grant has been given to borrowers from the business sector for six months without any conditions under the new economic package. “This will be a huge relief for them and will help in generating employment here,” he added.

The credit limit has also been extended from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for those employed in the handloom and handicraft industry, Sinha said. “They will also be given 7% interest subvention,” he said. “From October 1, Jammu and Kashmir Bank will start a special desk for youth and women enterprises.”

Last month, Sinha had announced the formation of a committee to work out modalities for the economic revival of Jammu and Kashmir and for assisting the business sector. The panel had submitted its report before the deadline, which was September 1. At the press conference, the lieutenant governor praised the panel. “This is for the first time here in so many years that a committee has submitted the report in the given time frame which was 12 days,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir has so far reported 61,041 coronavirus cases, according to the Union health ministry. The toll stood at 966.