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•    ‘We can’t do anything till govt come up with packages’

•    Wave off interest for a year: Traders

Srinagar, October 02:

At a time when businessmen in Kashmir need all the help to overcome their losses incurred due to floods, Jammu and Kashmir Bank has continued to charge interest on their loan amounts for the month of September.

Many traders, businessmen told Rising Kashmir that they have received interest payment SMSs from the bank debiting their account by interest amount for this September month.

“I was shocked to see the message. When we have lost everything, the bank is charging the interest,” said a trader from Lal Chowk, Iqbal Ahmad.

Iqbal said he had taken loan of Rs 13 lakh from the bank on which he is paying over 15 percent interest.

“We have lost everything. We have to start from scratch and get some compensation from government. Our minds are totally occupied with losses and how we can overcome all the losses. It is pathetic that in such a situation, J&K Bank is sending such SMSs and piling on interest on our loan amount,” said Ahmad who seemed to be perturbed by such notices.

Another businessman, Sajad Ahmad, who had recently started his business venture in Lal Chowk area by taking loan from J&K Bank was shocked to receive such SMS.

He said he was paying installments and interest regularly and before time.

“My business was going on good and had employed few unemployed persons also. But now as floods have affected everyone and our business activity also, we won’t be in a position to pay installment and interest amount for at least a year. We have to restart from zero again,” said Sajad.

He said J&K Bank is a local bank and should help generously all the businessmen so that they start their activities afresh.

“Government and banks should help at this time of crisis instead of debiting interest amount. If businessmen are helped, it will only help J&K Bank, state and local economy,” he added.

The business fraternity also took out on streets on Tuesday demanding immediate compensation from the government and the financial institutions.

The traders especially from Lal Chowk have given one week’s deadline to government to announce a comprehensive rehabilitation package.

The Jammu Kashmir Central Contractors’ Coordination Committee (JKCCCC) General Secretary Farooq Ahmad Dar said banks like State bank of India (SBI) have also frozen all the credit cash accounts.

“All our CC accounts in SBI have been frozen. We can’t make any transactions. On the other hand, J&K bank has started charging interest. We are

on the verge of extinction,” said Dar.

Meanwhile, President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) Mohammad Yasin Khan said they have already raised the matter with the bank to wave off the interest on the loan amounts for a year.

“We had an exclusive meeting with the bank officials and they have assured us that all possible measures will be taken to help business fraternity to overcome huge losses,” said Khan.

Khan said there are some relief schemes on the cards for the rehabilitation process for traders.

“We are in consistent talks with State government and bank officials. I appeal all the business fraternity to be patient as some major relief schemes will be announced soon,” said Khan.

Earlier, the state-level bankers committee decided to implement many financial relief schemes to provide relief to people whose livelihood has been ravaged by floods in the state.

However, a senior official of Jammu and Kashmir Bank told Rising Kashmir the bank is compelled to charge interest rate on all the loan amounts till State government announces a special financial scheme to wave off the interest.

“We understand that people are suffering but we are bound. By the time government doesn’t make any announcement about waving off the interest rate on loan accounts, we can’t do anything. We have to follow the RBI guidelines,” official said.

He said the bank has written a detailed letter to Centre and State government to announce a special package for all flood affected traders and businessman in valley.

“We have written to Centre and State government for a compensation package for business fraternity of Kashmir so that their interest can be waived off for a year,” said the official.

He said in a meeting with India Bankers Association (IBA) and State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) they have written to RBI to come up with a special financial relief scheme for Kashmiri businessman for their rehabilitation process.

“Under the procedure of RBI, we have a scheme in which we can defer the payments of loans for a year but it is no good for people as interest rate will be still applicable. We have requested RBI to come up with a comprehensive policy that will serve greater benefit to Kashmiri people,” he said.

In a meeting last week, with chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Mushtaq Ahmad in chair, it was resolved to implement relief measures like restructuring of loans and advances by sanction of additional credit facilities at a concessional rate of interest, conversion of part of existing working capital facilities into working capital term loan, extension of repayment period with moratorium and funding of interest on existing credit facilities.

Category: Bank

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