Staying fit and healthy gets cheaper in Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar, May 30 (IANS) Healthcare is set to get cheaper in Jammu and Kashmir. The state government on Monday proposed tax exemption not only for hospitals but extended it to health clubs, gymnasiums, fitness, wellness and slimming centres also.

Presenting his second budget in the state assembly here, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said “the category of new exemptions” was being introduced to promote “overall wellbeing — health, entertainment, environment — of our people”.

“I propose to exempt all services rendered by the health clubs, gymnasiums, fitness, wellness centres, slimming centres from the levy of tax,” the economist-politician said.

He also proposed tax exemption for “all medical services provided by hospitals and nursing homes” to make “private health-care affordable” in a state known for its bad state of affairs of healthcare.

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Drabu said the government also proposed reducing the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) on “medical imaging equipments, X-ray machines, scanners, X-ray films and plates from 13.5 percent to five percent rate category”.

Tax exemption was also extended to those industries and sectors “that are in the throes of a crisis” and “these include carpets and agriculture”, the minster said.

“All types of cotton and silk yarn, whether it is in hanks and otherwise, and all kinds of local handmade and handloom carpets be placed in zero rated tax category.”

Drabu insisted that the state economy had “not yet come out of the woods” and to “help this nascent turnaround”, the government proposed a host of measures.

These include extending till March 31, 2017, tax exemptions on essential commodities, no VAT on the local industry, no Central Sales Tax for industrial units, no toll on raw material and finished products of industrial units, and no tax on lodging services provided by hotels, lodges and guest houses.

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In the agriculture sector, exemption from VAT was proposed for equipment like threshers, tillers and harvesters.

Since Jammu and Kashmir was under Governor’s Rule from January 7 to April 4 following the death of the then chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, it did not have a normal budget. Governor N.N. Vohra had passed a vote on account in the state administrative council during that period to avert a financial crisis in the state.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) formed the government headed by Mehbooba Mufti on April 4 in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) three months after the death of Mehbooba’s father.



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