The budget for Jammu and Kashmir for the financial year 2023-24 is a step in the right direction. With the pandemic slowly receding, the focus has shifted towards putting delayed and derailed development works back on track. The budget, worth Rs. 1.18 lakh crore, has identified focus areas that require attention and intervention, and ample budget allocations are marked for these areas. One of the primary goals of the budget is to further improve the growth rate of 10% achieved in the previous year, increase revenue collection, and establish associated industries to give a major boost to employment and economic growth. Jammu and Kashmir has embraced the path of peace, and the youth are in search of new avenues to come at par with the rest of India as far as sustaining a better life. A significant effort in skill development must be made in order to accomplish this, including the introduction of the most recent academic programmes and technological advancements, large industrial setups, start-ups, and the rapid expansion of small and medium-sized businesses and self-help organizations. Taking a look at the budget put out demonstrates that this budget specifically targets these main areas. To address all these factors and meet the aspirations of young people, sufficient budgetary allocations have been made. Strengthening grassroots democracy is clearly prioritized, and the rural economy is given significant consideration. Large inflows of funding have been promised for the Panchayati Raj’s three tiers, with an emphasis on efforts to enhance infrastructure, roads, and water, as well as the establishment of agro-based small-scale companies to double the income of farmers and other people. A significant amount of funding has been given to the Rural Development Department because of its important role. This industry has a wide range of opportunities, and the money is assigned to a number of programmes created in cooperation with experts. Although they have been stagnant for a while, agriculture and horticulture are the economic game changers. The data has been analyzed to identify the core causes, and this budget is focused on changing the circumstance with the aid of agricultural and horticultural specialists. The few areas that are being targeted are scientific farming with numerous crops, lowering pre- and post-harvest losses, financing large and small farming equipment, and employing solar pumps to cut electricity costs. According to the planned plan, agro- and horticulture-based related industries will be developed by offering simple financing and technological know-how to quadruple farmers’ incomes and create new employment opportunities for young people in rural areas. Other significant industries receiving proper consideration in the budget include sheep and poultry husbandry, double milk output, and well-coordinated cooperative milk collection. While COVID-19, health infrastructure has been a major area of concern, measures have now been made to have the necessary tools, facilities, and labs in these hospitals, carrying along the good work of the new GMCs. In this budget, there has been a significant emphasis placed on improving healthcare in rural areas. The expansion of the distribution network and reforms to the power sector will go on. The capacity for generating electricity is expected to double in the upcoming years. Budgetary resources are available to build a road network with a large number of bridges and tunnels to connect the most isolated communities. Large HEPs would alter the perception of rural Jammu & Kashmir and create new employment prospects for locals.
The efforts of the present government in formulating a well-planned and futuristic budget for Jammu and Kashmir deserve appreciation. As stated by the Finance Minister, “The budget focuses on infrastructure development, employment generation, economic growth, and holistic improvement of the standard of living of the people.” The budget rightly identifies the focus areas and makes ample budgetary provisions to cater to them, ensuring a balanced development of all regions. The government’s emphasis on strengthening grass-roots democracy and rural economy, doubling farmers’ income, promoting tourism, and developing border areas is commendable. The budget’s implementation would undoubtedly improve the growth rate, increase revenue collection, and generate employment opportunities, contributing to the overall well-being of the people.