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New Delhi, 23.09.2020

Visti per affari. Procedura per l’ingresso in Italia di operatori fieristici (DPCM del 7 settembre 2020)

Si informa che l’art.1, comma 4, lettera d) del DPCM del 7 settembre 2020, modificando il testo del precedente DPCM 7 agosto 2020, prevede una deroga per l’ingresso in Italia, giustificato da ragioni non differibili, inclusa la partecipazione a manifestazioni fieristiche di livello internazionale. La deroga consente il libero ingresso in Italia di buyer ed espositori esteri dietro presentazione, al vettore all’atto dell’imbarco e a chiunque sia deputato ad effettuare i controlli, di un’attestazione da cui risulti che la persona, nelle 72 ore antecedenti all’ingresso nel territorio nazionale, si è sottoposta a un test molecolare o antigenico, effettuato per mezzo di tampone, il cui risultato è stato negativo. La norma richiede altresì la previa autorizzazione del Ministero della Salute. A tal fine, gli Enti Fiera e gli organizzatori di eventi fieristici internazionali in programma in Italia possono rivolgersi alla Direzione Generale per la Promozione del Sistema Paese - Ufficio XIV; e-mail: dgsp-14 at esteri.it) o al Ministero della Salute (Direzione Generale della Prevenzione Sanitaria; e-mail: m.dionisio at sanita.it o coordinamento.usmafsasn at sanita.it), richiedendo l’autorizzazione a consentire l’ingresso nel territorio nazionale di espositori e buyer stranieri attesi ad uno specifico evento espositivo, avendo cura di allegare l’elenco completo dei medesimi ed escludendo dalla lista i nominativi di ospiti provenienti dai paesi di cui all’elenco F dell’Allegato 20 del DPCM del 7 agosto 2020. Anche l’eventuale transito da uno dei suddetti paesi negli ultimi 14 giorni, da auto-certificare da parte degli interessati, e' motivo di divieto all’ingresso in Italia. La Direzione Generale della Prevenzione Sanitaria, esaminata la richiesta, invia per il tramite della Farnesina (DGSP-XIV) o direttamente agli organizzatori la nota autorizzativa, contenente il protocollo con le istruzioni a cui gli ospiti e gli organizzatori devono attenersi insieme ad un modulo da compilare. Ai fini del rilascio, in via straordinaria, del visto per affari, gli organizzatori dovranno in seguito contattare l’Ufficio consolare competente per territorio, trasmettendo ad esso l’elenco dei nominativi approvati, la nota autorizzativa, il protocollo e il modulo compilato. A seguire dovranno osservare le indicazioni operative trasmesse loro per la presentazione della domanda di visto per affari presso gli uffici di VFS Global (https://visa.vfsglobal.com/ind/en/ita). Gli operatori in arrivo dall’estero dovranno portare con sé, al momento dell’ingresso nel territorio nazionale, il protocollo e il modulo, unitamente all’attestazione dell’esito negativo del test antigenico o molecolare effettuato nelle precedenti 72 ore.

 

New Delhi, 21.09.2020

Tata group to launch India's first low cost Covid-19 test 'Feluda'

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave approval for the commercial launch of India's first Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) coronavirus test 'Feluda', developed by the Tata Group and CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology). This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus. CRISPR is a genome-editing technology to diagnose diseases. The Ministry of Science and Technology, The Tata CRISPR test, powered by CSIR-IGIB, received regulatory approvals from DCGI for commercial launch, as per ICMR guidelines, meeting high-quality benchmarks with 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus. The Tata CRISPR test is the world's first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing Covid-19. The launch marks a significant achievement for the Indian scientific community, moving from research and development to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test in less than 100 days. The commercialisation of Tata CRISPR test reflects the tremendous R&D talent in the country which can collaborate to transform India's contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world.

 

New Delhi, 09.09.2020

Indian luxury car market set to register a record 40% decline in 2020

The Indian car market may be witnessing a sharp turnaround, driven by strong demand for entry-level models, but the story isn’t pretty when it comes to the luxury segment. he Indian luxury car market is bracing for its steepest recorded decline in 2020, with the industry estimating sales to fall as much as 40%, pulling it down to the levels of 2011. While Covid-19 has led many middle-class families to opt for personal mobility, triggering demand for entry-level cars, the impact of the pandemic on the economy and businesses has forced wealthy individuals and companies to cut down on discretionary spending, such as on luxury vehicles. Sales had fallen 35% during the January-March period, while much of the following quarter was lost due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. Industry insiders said sales so far were down 50-55% from last year. They hope some support would come from festive demand. Despite having a large number of millionaires, the penetration level of luxury cars in India is considered to be among the lowest in large economies. The share of luxury cars in the overall market, in fact, has come down from 1.2% in 2019 to about 0.9% now. Industry executives expect sales to start growing only in 2021, that too because of comparison with the low numbers of this year.

 

New Delhi, 01.09.2020

India: Manufacturing PMI signals growth for first time in five months

IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rises to 52.0 in August from 46.0 in July. Indian manufacturers signalled a rebound in production volumes and new work in August, according to the latest PMI data. The upturn was led by an improvement in customer demand as client businesses reopened, after lockdown restrictions eased amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The decline in foreign exports weighed slightly on overall new orders as firms cited subdued demand conditions from abroad. 

 

New Delhi, 31.08.2020

India: 4 states reject Centre’s options over Goods & Service Tax (GST) dues

The Centre’s suggestion that Indian states borrow to meet the revenue shortfall in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has run into some turbulence with some states ruled by non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties rejecting both options presented to them. West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Punjab have all objected to the plan. Other states such as Maharashtra and Chattisgarh are also opposed to the plan. Ahead of the GST Council meeting last week, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray suggested moving to the older tax regime because GST wasn’t working. The Centre has guaranteed states compensation for any shortfall arising from GST for five years starting 2017. Annual revenue growth of 14% was assumed for this. The Centre offered states two options to plug a shortfall in their revenue, estimated at Rs 2.35 lakh crore (EUR 27 Billion) in the financial year that ends in March 2021, at the 41st meeting of the GST Council. First, states can borrow Rs 97,000 crore (EUR 11 Billion) at reasonable interest rates from a special window that will be opened in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India. Both the principal and the interest payments will come from cess collections. In the second option, the states can borrow the entire Rs 2.35 lakh crore (EUR 27 Billion), but will have to bear the interest cost.  The Centre has defined losses arising from implementation of GST at Rs 97,000 crore (EUR 11 Billion) and the balance as losses arising from Covid-19. The two options presented are totally  unacceptable because such a move will badly impact the financial health of states, West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra said on Sunday, warning of what he called a “planned strategy to crush federalism”.

 

New Delhi, 24.08.2020

India: In 40 days, 6.9 million people seek jobs on government portal, just a fraction employed

A government jobs portal launched by the Prime Minister on July 11 2020 has seen registration of over 69 lakh (6.9 million) individuals in just 40 days. But the number of individuals who got jobs is just a fraction of those who registered, showing that employment will be the biggest political economy challenge for the government as it restarts economic activities while trying to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. In just a week, between August 14 and August 21, more than 7 lakh (0.7 million) people registered. The number of people who took up jobs during the week, however, stood at just 691. According to data collated by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship on its ASEEM (Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping) portal, only 2 per cent of the 3.7 lakh (0.37 million) candidates looking for jobs have actually got one. Of the 69 lakh (6.9 million) migrant workers who registered, 1.49 lakh (149 thousand) were offered jobs, but only 7,700 could join work. Of the total jobs posted on the portal, more than 77 per cent are in five states—Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, shows the data. Logistics, healthcare, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), retail and construction are top give sectors which offered about 73.4 percent of jobs on the portal.

 

New Delhi, 23.08.2020

India’sMacro-economic numbers, $5-trillion GDP target to undergo revision

India’s target for a $5 trillion economy will be reset as Covid-19 has worsened the prospects of an already slowing economy, which dipped to an 11-year low of 5% in 2019-20. The exercise will be undertaken after the crucial April-June quarter economic growth numbers that are expected on August 31 will be out. The earlier target for India to reach $5 trillion was the year 2024-25. The size of India’s economy, at present, is $2.8 trillion and to reach $5 trillion, India needed a growth rate of nearly 12% in nominal terms and 9% in real terms. However, with the economy expected to contract sharply this year, the size of the GDP will also shrink and consequently the tax to GDP ratio will fall from the current 16%. The government will also undertake a mid-term revision of the economic growth numbers for the current financial year 2020-21, its tax collection target, deficit expectations and the rate of inflation it foresees for the year ending March 31, 2021. The government is also expected to reset the new short and medium-term growth targets up to 2025-26 as it looks highly impossible for the economy to take a sharp upturn from a deep contraction expected in the April-June period this year. Estimates of the gross domestic product (GDP) decline in 2020-21 vary from 1% to over 15%. While International Monetary Fund projects a sharp contraction of 4.5%, the World Bank has said, it will project a deeper than 3.2% contraction when it revises the outlook in October. Various private estimates have suggested a sharper decline. The RBI has not given any number but has said the economy will contract this year. The government has not said anything oicially till now but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone on Modi has gone on record to say that he sees green shoots of recovery in certain sectors.

 

New Delhi, 19.08.2020

India's COVID-19 vaccine may come early, emergency authorisation can be considered

India is leaving no stone unturned in developing a vaccine against coronavirus infection. Two homegrown vaccine candidates — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCOV-D by Zydus Cadila — have almost finished the phase II clinical trials. As the whole nation is eagerly waiting for a 'safe and effective' vaccine, there have been talks of 'emergency authorisation' of India's COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Phase-two clinical trials of two indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine candidates have almost been completed and emergency authorisation of a vaccine could be considered if the Centre decides so. 

 

New Delhi, 14.08.2020

India's Financial Year (FY) 21 growth to contract by 6% as covid-19 cases rise, says Barclays

Investment bank Barclays on Friday (14-05-2020) revised downward its growth projection for India in FY21 (1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021) to a contraction of 6% from a contraction of 3.2% estimated earlier. India’s rising coronavirus infection curve is weighing on its growth prospects despite surge in testing and some success in curbing spread of the pandemic in mega cities, the Barclays said. For the June quarter, Barclays expects GDP to shrink by 25.5% followed by 8% decline in September quarter. It projects growth recovery in second half of FY21 to be shallower, at around 4.3% against 6.3% estimated earlier, largely because of more tempered expectations for recovery in private consumption and private investment. For FY22, it revised its growth projection down to 7% from 7.4% estimated earlier. The Reserve Bank of India’s Survey of Professional Forecasters on Macroeconomic Indicators released last week showed GDP may contract 21.5% in June quarter and 5.8% in FY21 before bouncing back to grow at 7.4% in FY22. India now has the fastest growing number of covid-19 cases and deaths globally, displacing the US and Brazil. With close to 2.5 million cases, India ranks third in cases globally, but the gap between India and Brazil looks set to close over the next few weeks.

 

New Delhi, 07.08.2020

Reserve Bank of India keeps key rates unchanged

While inflationary pressure is mounting, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee unanimously decided to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4% and the reverse repo rate at 3.35%. The committee also maintained its “accommodative” stance on monetary policy against the backdrop of Covid-19 situation and the ensuing grim economic outlook. As the prices of food items escalated, retail inflation soared to 6.09% in June from 5.84% in March, remaining above the RBI’s medium-term target range of 2%-6%. The Committee anticipates inflation to remain elevated in Q2, ease in second half of fiscal, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said. He also opines that the real GDP growth will remain in the negative, though any positive news on the COVID-19 containment efforts could change this scenario. This announcement comes in the wake of the central bank’s bi-monthly Monetary Policy meeting that began on August 4. This is the first scheduled policy review since February by the six-member committee. The central bank had reduced the repo rate by a total of 115 basis points since February. This was in addition to the 135 basis points in an easing cycle last year, from 6.50%, owing to slowing growth.

 

New Delhi, 06.08.2020

Glenmark launches stronger FabiFlu. Covid patients now need half number of tablets

Pharma major Glenmark Pharmaceuticals will launch a higher strength (400 mg) version of oral antiviral drug FabiFlu for the treatment of mild and moderate coronavirus cases in India. Currently, the drug is available in 200 mg dosage. FabiFlu is the generic version of Favipiravir, which is approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted emergency use. The higher strength will improve compliance for patients by effectively reducing the number of tablets required per day. Patients can now opt for a more relaxed dosage regimen when compared to 200 mg tablets and now need to take half the number of pills due to the introduction of 400 mg. Glenmark has already received regulator Drugs Controller General of India's approval for the 400 mg dosage form and soon will be available in the Indian market. 

 

New Delhi, 03.08.2020

Indian government eases quarantine rules for international flyers

From August 8 onwards, people flying into India can seek exemption from institutional quarantine if they come with a corona-negative report. According to the fresh guideline issued on Sunday by the Union health ministry, the test should have been conducted within 96 hours of undertaking the journey. Passengers submitting false or forged medical reports will be prosecuted. Also, those coming to India for “compelling reasons/cases of human distress such as pregnancy, death in family, serious illness and parent(s) with children of the age of 10 years or below” from August 8 onwards can seek home quarantine for 14 days, instead of seven-day paid institutional quarantine and seven-day home quarantine. “If they wish to seek such exemption, they shall [have to] apply on www.newdelhiairport.in at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final,” say the guidelines that will come into effect from 12.01am on August 8. For travellers coming with a corona-negative test report, the guidelines say: “The [RT-PCR] test report should be uploaded on the portal for consideration… The test report could also be produced upon arrival at the point of entry airport  in India.” Before boarding the aircraft to India, “All passengers are advised to download the Arogya Setu app on their mobile devices. At the time of boarding the flight/ship, only asymptoma travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening. Passengers arriving through land borders will also have to undergo the same protocol as above...” On arrival, a symptomatic passenger shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility. “Post thermal screening the passengers who have been exempted from institutional quarantine will show the same to the respective state counters on their cell phones/other mode before being allowed home quarantine for 14 days,” the guidelines say. Other passengers shall be taken to suitable institutional quarantine facilities, to be arranged by the respective state/UT governments, for being kept there at least for seven days. States can develop their own protocol with regards to quarantine and isolation as per their assessment post arrival of passengers in the state concerned, the guidelines said.

 

New Delhi, 30.07.2020

Dragged by extended lockdowns, India's FMCG sector to register flat growth in 2020: Nielsen

According to data analytics firm Nielsen, India's fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is expected to witness flat growth in 2020 following severe and extended lockdowns, restrictions on manufacturing units, social distancing norms and store closures. Earlier, in the middle of the lockdown, Nielsen had slashed the growth forecast for the FMCG sector by almost half to 5-6 per cent for 2020 citing adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemicThough the FMCG industry has shown some sign of improvements in June, but in the first half of the year (January-June) the industry growth slipped to negative with 6 per cent decline. The report stated that the bellwether FMCG industry, which was trying to revive from a difficult 2019, had a significant hit in the April-June quarter with a 17 per cent decline in sales value as compared to the same quarter of 2019. However, an uptick in demand is expected in October-December quarter during the festive seasons as food categories are expected to see a higher growth, while July-September quarter is also likely to see some growth.

 

New Delhi, 29.07.2020

ADB approves $3 million grant to India to combat COVID-19

Multilateral funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $3 million (about ₹22 crore) grant to India from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund to further support the government’s emergency response to COVID-19 pandemic. The grant, which is financed by the Japanese government, will be used to procure thermal scanners and essential commodities to strengthen India's COVID-19 response. The new grant complements ADB’s ongoing support to the Government of India in strengthening its COVID-19 response. This support will enhance disease surveillance and help in early detection, contact tracing, and treatment. This will be further supplemented by other public health measures. On April 28, ADB approved $1.5 billion COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) programme to support India in its immediate pandemic response efforts, including disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection measures for the poor and economically vulnerable, particularly women and disadvantaged groups. The CARES programme is funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under ADB’s countercyclical support facility. CPRO was established as part of ADB’s USD 20 billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ pandemic response, which was announced on April 13.

 

New Delhi, 28.07.2020

India’s economic improvement appears insubstantial

After improving sharply in May, India’s economic improvement seems to have stalled in June, the latest update of the Mint Macro Tracker shows. The Mint Macro Tracker provides a comprehensive overview of 16 high-frequency indicators to track India's economic health. As of June, 12 of the 16 macroeconomic indicators considered in the tracker were in the red (below their five-year growth trend), the same as last month, while three were in green (above their five-year growth trend) and one maintained trend. Both production and consumption have been hit hard, the macro tracker shows. All four indicators of production activity - the composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), core infrastructure sector growth, bank non-food credit, and rail freight traffic - were in the red for the third successive month. The composite PMI, which measures combined manufacturing and services output improved to 37.8 from 14.8 in May but remained below the crucial 50-mark boundary, which separates an expansion in activity from contraction. The PMI reading for India suggested a contraction compared to the month-ago period. Rail freight traffic fell 8% in June compared to the year-ago period. Core sector growth (published with a month’s lag) contracted in May. Bank (non-food) credit grew only 6.8% in May. This is in fact slightly slower than the 7.3% rate recorded during April, the worst phase of the nationwide lockdown. Three of the four consumption indicators continue to be in the red. Passenger vehicle sales (-61%) and the number of domestic air passengers (-84%) both contracted sharply in June. Only tractor sales saw a sharp growth (22%) in June. The on-year growth in broadband subscribers (18%), data on which is available with a two month lag, was the lowest in over five years as of April. The number of both broadband and mobile subscribers in India declined month-on-month as millions of users discontinued their subscriptions. The pandemic-induced disruptions in supply chains have led to a spike in inflation, and the shutting down of businesses have hurt jobs. All four indicators of the ease of living scorecard - CPI inflation (6%), core CPI inflation (5%), real rural wage growth (-2%) and job outlook (2%) - were in the red as of June. India’s external sector is more of a mixed bag, and perhaps reflects the lone bright spot in the economic report card. The contraction in merchandise exports ebbed in June in India but imports continued to contract at a sharp pace as domestic demand remained weak, leading to a record trade surplus. Overall, the report card suggests that the Indian economy is not out of the woods yet.

 

New Delhi, 27.07.2020

Indian rice exports slow as coronavirus disrupts supply chain and leads to labour shortage

India's rice exporters are struggling to fulfil orders due to limited availability of containers and workers at mills and the biggest handling port on the east coast after novel coronavirus cases jumped in the region, industry officials told Reuters. Slowing shipments from the world's biggest rice exporter could allow rivals like Thailand and Vietnam to raise supplies in the short term, and also carries the potential to push up global prices. "The vessel loading rate at Kakinada port has gone down by nearly 30%," said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association. Kakinada is located in East Godavari district of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh - a district that has been reporting more than 1,000 new virus infections every day - accounts for more than a quarter of India's rice shipments. "Labourers are working only on day shifts and not doing night shift," Rao said. In the next few months, India could export around 100,000 tonnes less rice per month as the labour shortage means rice mills are operating at lower capacity, Rao said. Rice exporters operating outside Andhra Pradesh state have also been hit by limited availability of containers, said Ashwin Shah, director at Shah Nanji Nagsi Exports Pvt. Ltd, an exporter based in Nagpur in central India. "There are logistical problems in executing export orders. Otherwise demand is good as Indian rice is cheaper," Shah said. India was offering 5% broken parboiled variety at around $380 (324 euro) per tonne on a free-on-board basis last week, while Thailand was offering the same grade at around $460 (392 euro). African buyers were actively buying non-basmati rice, while demand is good for basmati rice from the Middle East, said Nitin Gupta, vice president of trader Olam India's rice business. "If logistical bottlenecks are fixed, India could export much more rice than last year," Gupta said.
 

 

New Delhi, 23.07.2020

Indian EV industry to represent ₹50,000 cr (Euro 5.75 Bn) opportunity by 2025, Covid-19 to accelerate its adoption

According to a report published recently, Electric vehicles in India could represent a ₹50,000 crore (Euro 5.75 Bn) opportunity by 2025, and the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to accelerate the rate of adoption of EVs in the medium term. The current Covid-19 environment is expected to accelerate the rate of adoption of EVs in the medium term as customers look for environment friendly and cost-effective personal mobility solutions, and also because online commerce is fast becoming the norm, with a focus on the delivery of everything, it said. As per the automotive analysts, Two and three-wheelers will lead the electrification movement in India in the medium term and expects a nine per cent penetration by Financial Year 2024-25 (FY25) in the two-wheeler segment. E-rickshaws have also emerged as a large market in India in a short time frame, and a large part of this market is still unorganized and based on lead-acid batteries. However, this market is expected to rapidly shift to Li-ion and by FY25, and 40 percent of the e-rick market is expected to be Li-ion based. However, the overall penetration in the electric four-wheeler segment is expected to be only around 2 per cent. As for commercial vehicles, e-buses are expected to lead the category, the report found. India represents the fourth largest automobile market in the world and the second-largest two-wheeler market with ~ 20 mn units. It is also a country with massive dependency on oil imports. Pollution in many Indian cities has reached alarming levels. All these factors combined, make a strong case for EV adoption in India. The report identifies four critical factors that will drive EV adoption in India over the next decade – policy, battery cost, charging infrastructure and supply chain localization. 

 

New Delhi, 20.07.2020

India government may allow 100% FDI in completed housing projects

India is reviewing its foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for the real estate sector to see if 100% overseas investment can be allowed in completed projects. If implemented, this will allow real estate companies to monetise completed projects amid the ongoing liquidity crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, thus helping to revive an economically critical sector. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is looking at ways to attract more investment in  construction development on increased interest in the sector from overseas, said people in the know. There are only limited sectors where FDI norms can be further relaxed and housing is one of them. As per the government’s plan to simplify processes and make it easier to invest in India, DPIIT is looking at reforms in mining and certain sectors where there are still some restrictions. The department plans to seek cabinet approval for relaxing norms to allow up to 74% FDI in defence manufacturing under the automatic route. The FDI cap in defence was raised as part of the Atmanirbhar package and needs to be operationalised. DPIIT will issue a detailed press note subsequent to the cabinet nod. FDI into India rose 13% to a record $49.97 billion in FY20 from $44.36 billion a year earlier. India currently allows 100% FDI through the automatic route in construction-development projects — townships, residential and commercial buildings, roads, bridges, hotels, resorts, hospitals, educational institutions, recreational facilities and city and regional-level infrastructure. This is subject to conditions such as a three-year lock-in period before the original investment can be repatriated.

 

New Delhi, 13.07.2020

Demand for online fitness products in India surge amid Covid-19

According to the source, as fitness freaks and health-focused people stay inside due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for online shopping of active wear and fitness gear products has surged in India. According to North Alp, an online shopping portal that exclusively focuses on sports active wear and fitness gear segments, they have seen a 300 per cent increase in sales. The Sweden-based company revealed that current demands are mainly fitness wear, shoes and fitness products in the country. During the lockdown, the company revealed that 40 per cent of the sales were for active wear, 30 per cent for a yoga mat, 13 per cent for footwear and rest for fitness accessories. The growing popularity of virtual fitness workouts with professional instructors and coaches are another reason behind the increase in online sales of fitness products and brands, such as apparel and shoes.

 

New Delhi, 09.07.2020

Cabinet approves setting up of 1-lakh crore (€11.7 Bn) Agri-Infra Fund in India

The Indian government on 8th July 2020, approved setting up an agri-infra fund with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore (approx. Euro 11.7 Bn) to provide financial support to agri-entrepreneurs, start-ups, agritech players and farmer groups for infrastructure and logistics facilities. The agri-infra fund was part of the over Rs 20 lakh crore (Euro 235Bn) stimulus package announced in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed, "It is a historic decision. This will further strengthen the agriculture sector. The new agri-infra fund, the duration of which will be 10 years till 2029, aims to provide medium-to-long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for postharvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support”. Under this, the amount sanctioned will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to primary agri credit societies, farmer groups, farmer producer organisations (FPOs), agri-entrepreneurs, start-ups and agri-tech players. Loans will be disbursed in four financial years starting with the current year. The funds will be provided for setting up of cold stores and chains, warehousing, silos, assaying, grading and packaging units, emarketing points linked to e-trading platforms and ripening chambers, besides PPP (Private Public Partnership) projects for crop aggregation sponsored by central/state/local bodies.

 

New Delhi, 04.07.2020

India may change hydroxychloroquine policy after WHO halts trials

India could be taking a relook at the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for treatment of Covid-19 after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it had discontinued HCQ clinical trials because it did not reduce mortality in hospitalized patients, based on the results of interim trials. India uses HCQ as a prominent drug not just for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, but also as a prophylaxis (for prevention) medicine for use among frontline workers involved in managing Covid-19 patients or close contacts of a laboratory positive case. The evidence generated from across the globe is being constantly scrutinized by experts here and guidelines and protocols are being revised accordingly. The same is true for HCQ or any other drug given to Covid-19 patients. The experts will be reviewing the guidelines and protocols and if they feel a need for a revision, they will change them. Based on its Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee recommendations, WHO also discontinued the trial’s Lopinavir and Ritonavir arms for the same reason. Both these drugs are antivirals meant for HIV/AIDS treatment, and had shown promise initially in treating Covid-19. India dropped these medicines from its list of drugs used to treat Covid-positive cases in April.

 

New Delhi, 02.07.2020

India needs Rs 50-60 lakh crore foreign investments to bolster coronavirus-hit economy: Minister Gadkari

According to source, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that India needs foreign direct investments (FDI) worth Rs 50 to 60 lakh crore (approximately 59 to 71 billions Euro) and the money can be tapped mainly through infrastructure projects as well as MSME sector to accelerate the wheels of coronavirus-hit economy. Emphasising that at this juncture FDI is the need of the hour, the senior minister said such funds would benefit the country as there is a need for pumping in liquidity into the market. Infrastructure sector including highways, airports, inland waterways, railways, logistic parks, broad gauge and metro, apart from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can attract large scale foreign investment, he added.

 

New Delhi, 01.07.2020

India’s Manufacturing PMI improved to 47.2 in June, but business conditions continue to deteriorate

Factories in India saw some improvement as the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 47.2 in June as against 30.8 in May. The PMI on the basis of responses from purchasing managers associated with around 400 manufacturers. The indices vary between 0 and 100, with a reading above 50, indicating an overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50, an overall decrease. While India’s manufacturing sector moved towards stabilisation in June, however, the recent spike in new coronavirus cases and the resulting lockdown extensions have seen demand continue to weaken. Despite the rise in index, the latest reading pointed to a third successive monthly decline in the health of the manufacturing sector

 

New Delhi, 25.06.2020

IMF scales down growth projection, says Indian economy will contract by 4.5% this fiscal

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its projection for India as well as global growth. The agency estimates show that the Indian economy will contract this fiscal, but will bounce back smartly during the next fiscal. “India’s economy is projected to contract by 4.5 per cent following a longer period of lockdown and slower recovery than anticipated in April,” IMF said in the latest update of ‘World Economic Outlook.’ Interestingly, IMF was among two or three agencies, which had estimated growth in its April outlook. At that time, it was projected that India will grow by 1.9 per cent during current fiscal. This projection has come at a time when India is yet to see a peak of the Covid-19 virus. More significantly, metros such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are witnessing sharp surge in the cases affecting the path of normalcy during first phase of nationwide opening up. The governments — both Central and States — have repeatedly said that there will be no further lockdown. But economic activities are still facing uncertainties. Like various agencies, IMF too expects better days ahead. It projects growth of 6 per cent during the next fiscal. However, it is 1.4 percentage points lower than the April outlook. Taking note of liquidity support under Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) package, it feels that various sectors will gain from that.

 

New Delhi, 25.06.2020

India imposes anti-dumping duty on value-added steel imports

The government has imposed an anti-dumping duty on certain value-added steel products to curb cheap imports and support the struggling domestic industry hit hard by the pandemic. A duty of $13.07 a tonne to $173.10 tonne will be applicable for five years from October 15 on flat-rolled steel products plated or coated with an alloy of aluminium and zinc, imported from China, Vietnam and Korea. The duty will be payable in rupee, said a notification by the Department of Revenue. Despite the global Covid-induced lockdown, steel imports from Japan and Korea have continued in the last two months. Many user industries imported steel under advance authorisation, whereby they pay no duty with a promise to export a similar quantity of value-added steel after a period of time. In April, Korean steel imports into India increased 31 per cent despite the lockdown. About 70 per cent of the steel imports into India in April was duty-free, from FTA (free trade agreement) countries. Punitive duties are also circumvented by bundling of products. This apart, China evaded duty by routing exports to India through Vietnam after a small value addition in that country.

 

 

New Delhi, 20.06.2020

Glenmark launches COVID-19 drug after nod from Drugs Controller General of India

Drug firm Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has launched the antiviral drug Favipiravir, under the brand name FabiFlu, for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The drug will be available as a 200 mg tablet. FabiFlu is the first oral favipiravir-approved medication in India for the treatment of COVID-19, it is a prescription-based medication, with recommended dose being 1,800 mg twice daily on day one, followed by 800 mg twice daily up to day 14. The tablets are being produced by the company at its Baddi facility in Himachal Pradesh. The drug will be available both through hospitals and the retail channels. The Mumbai-based firm had on 19th June received the manufacturing and marketing approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). Glenmark will work closely with the government and medical community to make FabiFlu quickly accessible to patients across the country. The company has successfully developed the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and the formulation for FabiFlu through its in-house research and development team. Glenmark also announced that it is conducting another clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of two antivirals Favipiravir and Umifenovir as a combination therapy in moderate hospitalised adult COVID-19 patients in India.

 

New Delhi, 18.06.2020

PM Modi launches auction process of coal blocks, says India must reduce coal imports

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday addressing the event to launch the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining said that India will turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity, become self-reliant and reduce its dependence on imports. "India will turn this COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity. It has taught India to be self-reliant. India will reduce its dependence on imports. To make India self-reliant in the energy sector, a major step is being taken today," Prime Minister Modi said. "We are not just launching the auction for commercial coal-mining today, but bringing the coal sector out of decades of lockdown," he said addressing the launch through video conferencing. The Prime Minister also highlighted that India despite having the world's fourth-largest coal-reserves and being the second-largest producer still does not export coal but is the world's second-largest coal-importer. According to a release, the Ministry of Coal, in association with FICCI, is launching the process for auction of 41 coal mines under the provisions of CM (SP) Act and MMDR Act to achieve self-reliance in the coal sector. It said that the auction process marks the beginning of the opening of the Indian coal sector for commercial mining and it will enable the country to achieve self-sufficiency in meeting its energy needs and boost industrial development. The commencement of the auction process of coal mines for sale of coal is part of the series of announcements made by the Centre under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

 

New Delhi, 17.06.2020

India to remain most resilient in South Asia, continue to attract FDI even in Covid-19 crisis

As per the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), India’s economy could prove the most resilient in South Asia and its large market will continue to attract market-seeking investments to the country even as it expects a dramatic fall in global foreign direct investment (FDI). However, inflows may shrink sharply. As per UNCTAD, India jumped to ninth spot in 2019 on the list of global top FDI recipients from the twelfth spot in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, global FDI flows are forecast to nose dive by upto 40% in 2020, from their 2019 value of $1.54 trillion, bringing FDI below $1 trillion for the first time since 2005. FDI is projected to decrease by a further 5-10% in 2021 and a recovery is likely in 2022 amid a highly uncertain outlook. A rebound in 2022, with FDI reverting to the pre-pandemic underlying trend, is possible, but only at the upper bound of expectations. FDI inflows into India rose 13% on year in FY20 to a record $49.97 billion compared to $44.36 billion in 2018-19. In 2019, FDI flows to the region declined by 5%, to $474 billion, despite gains in South East Asia, China and India. FDI to India has been on a long-term growth trend. Positive, albeit lower, economic growth in the post pandemic period and India’s large market will continue to attract market-seeking investments to the country.

 

New Delhi, 10.06.2020

India’s economic growth profile will be ‘W’ shaped if the virus outbreak recurs: OECD India economist

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated India’s GDP to contract between 3.7 and 7.3 per cent depending upon whether it is one phase of virus attack or double attack — recurrence of pandemic which could necessitate another lockdown. OECD’s India Economist Isabelle Joumard explaining the economic outlook for the country expressed that the Indian economy would suffer from a steeper decline in investment and consumption. Exports and remittances would also fall more than in the single-hit scenario. The growth profile would be W-shaped, with a smaller second leg but long-lasting scare. In this more adverse scenario, activity would drop by over 7 per cent in FY21 and recover gradually throughout FY21.

 

New Delhi, 09.06.2020

Indian Government may soon allow import of untested drugs under trial

The Central government proposes to ease rules to allow the import of any new, untested drug undergoing clinical trials in other countries, for compassionate use, such as those for Covid-19, rare paediatric disorders and genetic diseases. In clinical terms, ‘compassionate use’ is defined as the use of a new, unapproved drug to treat a seriously ill patient when no other therapy is available. The ministry of health and family welfare is amending the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules 2019, enabling any government or private hospital, or a medical institution to import medicines required for the treatment of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases, those that cause serious permanent disability or people requiring therapy for unmet medical needs. The rules are likely to come into effect within two weeks, said people with knowledge of the matter. This will help in the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients as it will give them access to drugs that may be unavailable in India and are undergoing clinical trials in other countries.

 

New Delhi, 02.06.2020

How five states are leading economy to recovery from lockdow ..
 

Five states contributing nearly 27% of the country’s gross domestic product are leading a recovery in the economy as it slowly emerges from the world’s biggest lockdown, a study by Elara Securities Inc shows. Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Karnataka have seen a pickup in activity, based on an analysis of indicators such as power consumption, traffic movement, arrival of farm products at wholesale markets and Google mobility data, Garima Kapoor, an economist at Elara Securities in Mumbai, wrote in a note. Some of the most industrialised states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat were trailing because of tough measures still in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, she said. India will begin a phased lifting of the nationwide lockdown from June 8, allowing shopping malls, restaurants and places of worship to reopen in areas where virus infections are under control. “The best stimulus India can have is resumption of normal economic activity,” Kapoor said. “The country is witnessing an improvement in activity but it remains sporadic.” Punjab and Haryana were among states that saw an improvement in electricity requirement, reflecting demand from farm operations, the study showed. National capital Delhi also showed an increase in power demand as well as mobility trends. Kapoor examined Google search trends to see if consumers are shifting consumption patterns as they adapt to a “new way of life.” The analysis showed there was pent-up demand for salon services, air conditioners, air travel, bikes, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Searches associated with panic-buying when the lockdown was first announced -- such as pharmacy and grocery stores and liquid soaps -- have eased. Consumers haven’t given up looking for items such as earphones, hair oil, laptops, mobile phones, jewelery, mops, toys and microwave ovens. “We anticipate demand to persist in the upcoming months, as some are virus-related shifts in patterns,” Kapoor said.

 

New Delhi, 02.06.2020

India will get its growth back, govt taking all measures to boost economy: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India will get its growth back and added that the government has already started taking steps towards boosting the economy with eased guidelines under the ‘Unlock 1’ strategy. His comments came while addressing the inaugural session of the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) annual session 2020 to mark 125 years of its inception. "I would rather go beyond getting growth back. We will definitely get our growth back": Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Commenting on the impact of the coronavirus in India and the lockdown that followed, he said the government has two key responsibilities at the moment -- to save lives of citizens and to stabilise the country's economy. "Restrengthening economy against corona is one of our highest priorities. For this, the government has taken immediate decisions. We have also taken decisions which will help the country in the long run," PM Modi said. He assured that the industry will get full support from the government to emerge out of the economic distress caused by the coronavirus and prolonged lockdown. However, he also asked Indian corporates to take steps to promote local growth and manufacturing. He told the industry leaders that India must shift its focus on strengthening local supply chains and indigenous manufacturing units. The prime minister urged them to uplift the domestic industry in India through future operations as India aims to become self-reliant or 'atma nirbhar'. "Now we have to invest in the creation of a robust local supply chain that strengthens India's stake in the global supply chain. In this campaign, a big institution like Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will also have to come forward in a new role post-Corona," PM Modi said. "Intent, Inclusion, Investment, Infrastructure and Innovation— these five things are important to speed up India's development and make it 'atma nirbhar'. You will get a glimpse of these in the bold decisions recently taken by us," he added. PM Modi said the government will further engage in discussions with industry leaders to create more jobs under schemes like 'Make in India'. "I request you to come up with a detailed study for each sector. We will together take up more structural reforms that will change the course of our country. We will together make India atma nirbhar, the government is with you," PM Modi told members of the CII. PM Modi's fresh call to the industry comes a day after he lauded the decisions taken by the government on Monday to boost livelihoods of farmers, labourers and workers.

 

New Delhi, 01.06.2020

Moody’s downgrades India’s rating, maintains negative outlook

Moody’s Investors Service on Monday downgraded India’s sovereign rating to ‘Baa3’ from ‘Baa2’, saying there will be challenges in implementation of policies to mitigate risks of a sustained period of low growth and deteriorating fiscal position. “Moody’s has today downgraded the Government of India’s foreign-currency and local-currency long-term issuer ratings to Baa3 from Baa2.” Moody’s has also downgraded India’s local-currency senior unsecured rating to Baa3 from Baa2, and its short-term local-currency rating to P-3 from P-2. The outlook remains negative,” the agency said in a statement. The negative outlook reflects dominant, mutually-reinforcing, downside risks from deeper stresses in the economy and financial system that could lead to a more severe and prolonged erosion in fiscal strength than Moody’s currently projects, it added. “The decision to downgrade India’s ratings reflects Moody’s view that the country’s policy-making institutions will be challenged in enacting and implementing policies which effectively mitigate the risks of a sustained period of relatively low growth, significant further deterioration in the general government fiscal position and stress in the financial sector,” the statement said. ‘Baa3’ is the lowest investment grade – just a notch above junk status. Moody’s had in November 2017, after a gap of 13 years, upgraded India’s sovereign credit rating by a notch to Baa2 from Baa3.

 

New Delhi, 27.05.2020

Indian economy may contract by over 40% in Q1: SBI Research

The Indian economy faces a 'humongous' loss in the June quarter and gross domestic product (GDP) could contract by more than 40% during the period as per a research done by the State Bank of India (SBI) . It expects another stimulus package later in the year to help shore up the economy. SBI Research estimates the economy will contract by 6.8% in FY21 (Indian Financial Year start on 01.04.2020 and finish on 31.03.2021) after a 'smart recovery' in the second quarter and “much better” growth numbers in the third and fourth quarters. It is believed that Q1GDP FY21 loss will be humongous and could even exceed 40%, estimating second-quarter growth at 7.1% if demand recovers.

 

New Delhi, 22.05.2020

Indian Central Bank - RBI extends moratorium for 3 more months

In a breather for borrowers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the moratorium on term loans and deferment of interest on working capital facilities by three more months to August 31, 2020. The three month moratorium and deferment was to come to an end on May 31. The RBI also said the deferred interest on the working capital facility can be converted into funded interest on term loan, repayable by March 31, 2021. With companies unable to tap the capital markets, the RBI has increased the single borrower exposure limit for banks to 25 per cent of their capital funds

 

New Delhi, 22.05.2020

Amazon India announces close to 50,000 seasonal jobs across its fulfilment, delivery network

Amazon India announced that it has opened close to 50,000 seasonal roles to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.This will be a variety of roles in their fulfilment centres and delivery network including part-time flexible work opportunities as independent contractors with Amazon Flex. The associates will join other thousands of associates across Amazon India’s fulfilment and delivery network and assist them to pick, pack, ship and deliver customers’ orders more efficiently. “One thing we’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is how important a role Amazon and e-commerce can play for our customers as much as for small businesses and the economy. We take this responsibility seriously, and we’re proud of the work our teams are doing to help small and other businesses deliver to our customers through this difficult time” said Akhil Saxena, VP, Customer Fulfilment Operations, APAC, MENA & LATAM, Amazon. “We want to continue helping customers all over India get everything they need so they can continue to practise social distancing. To enable this, we are creating work opportunities for close to 50,000 seasonal associates across our fulfilment and delivery network. This will also keep as many people as possible working during this pandemic while providing a safe work environment for them,” said Saxena. While creating these opportunities, the e-tailer said it remains committed to the health and safety of its associates, partners, employees and customers, and has implemented a number of measures towards their well-being. The company has made around 100 process changes in its operations for the safety of its people, which include mandatory face covering, daily temperature checks in buildings, increased frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites, including regular sanitisation of frequently touched areas, and awareness-building among associates on safety requirements around hand-washing and hand sanitisation.

 

New Delhi, 21.05.2020

Lockdown period utilised to ramp up India's medical infrastructure: Health Ministry

The Union health ministry on Thursday (21.05.2020) said the period of lockdown has been gainfully utilised by India to ramp up its health-care infrastructure. The lockdown also helped to keep its COVID-19 mortality rate relatively low. Central and state governments have put in place 3,027 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and COVID health centres besides 7,013 COVID care centres.  All dedicated health facilities together have 2.81 lakh isolation beds, 31,250 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and 11,387 beds with oxygen support for patients. The announcement came after some media reports questioned the country's preparedness to deal with the highly infectious disease.

 

New Delhi, 20.05.2020

India’s Goods exports fall 60.28 percent in April 2020 as Covid-19 takes its toll

India’s exports of goods in April 2020 fell 60.28 per cent to $ 10.36 billion (year-on-year), the steepest fall in over 25 years, with almost all major sectors such as gems & jewellery, garments and textiles, carpets, leather, engineering goods and petroleum products, posting a sharp fall. According to official release, “The decline in exports has been mainly due to the ongoing global slowdown, which got aggravated due to the current Covid-19 crisis. The latter resulted in large scale disruptions in supply chains and demand leading to the cancellation of orders,”. Imports too declined 58.65 per cent to $ 17.12 billion in April 2020 with the sharpest drop in sectors such as electronics, petroleum, machinery, coal and chemicals, according to figures released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry. Trade deficit shrunk to $ 6.76 billion in April 2020 compared to $15.33 billion deficit in April 2019.

 

New Delhi, 18.05.2020

India-Russia to brainstorm on Industry 4.0, mining sector prospects post-Covid

India and Russia will soon brainstorm on emerging industry 4.0 and the mining sector in the post-Covid world. As part of a series of web-based seminars to support Indian industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is organizing a digital conference for the mining sector on May 21 in partnership with Finnish-Russian digital solutions provider Zyfra. The webinar is part of the series on Indian industry with a focus on mining and how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and Industry 4.0 can help various sectors in the new post-coronavirus crisis paradigm. Its priorities currently fall into three phases – "Survival Phase Recovery, and Business as usual along with the digital transformation. These are some of the ways to move directly into the third phase and build a more resilient business. This webinar will answer questions about digital transformations and its capabilities, as well as hardware, software, and essential services that can optimize industry operations in the field of development and implementation of solutions based on IT, AI, and automation for the mining industry. Leading international and national industry experts will present their views on the use of digitalization to transform the operations of the mining sector and take questions from the participants. The company has installed another of its mine fleet management systems - Zyfra Open Mine – in its 80th location. This system improves efficiency and safety in open pit mining, based on individual requirements of the mine. This installation took place at the Shougang Hierro open pit mine in Peru of Cosapi Mineria, a Latin American leader in mining.

 

New Delhi, 17.05.2020

India plans to suspend new bankruptcy filings for year amid coronavirus crisis

As a part of her reform package to revive economic activity, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on 17 May that India won’t allow most companies to be tipped into bankruptcy for a year as authorities try to contain the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure has been taken in order to help small businesses who were reaching the stage of bankruptcy.However, the move risks delaying the clean up of the world’s worst stressed-loan ratio as creditors will be forced into lengthy debt resolution negotiations outside the bankruptcy framework. It may also slow fresh credit that is vital to reverse the course of an economy set for a rare contraction as the pandemic stalls economic activity.

 

New Delhi, 17.05.2020

COVID-19 could cost 135 million jobs; push 120 million people into poverty in India

Following the COVID-19-induced economic disruptions, up to 135 million jobs could be lost and 120 million people might be pushed back into poverty in India, all of which will have a hit on consumer income, spending and savings. According to a new report by international management consulting firm Arthur D Little, the worst of COVID-19's impact will be felt by India's most vulnerable in terms of job loss, poverty increase and reduced per-capita income, which in turn will result in a steep decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unemployment may rise to 35 per cent from 7.6 per cent resulting in 136 million jobs lost and a total of 174 million unemployed. Poverty alleviation will receive a set-back, significantly changing the fortunes of many, putting 120 million people into poverty and 40 million into abject poverty, the report said.

 

New Delhi, 16.05.2020

Lockdown 4.0 | Schools, malls to remain shut; shops, public transport may open up in Red Zone

The government is likely to provide further relaxation to facilitate business activities during Lockdown 4.0 but at the same time will also impose stricter restrictions in containment zones. Senior officials privy to the information said the aim is to provide more relaxation without letting down guard. In Lockdown 4.0, states and Union territories are likely to get greater flexibility as the country prepares to live with Covid-19. In Lockdown 4.0, schools, colleges, malls and movie theaters will not be allowed to operate anywhere in the country. However, the government is allow salons, barber shops and spas could be allowed to open even in Red Zones, except in areas that have been marked as containment zones. At present, they are allowed to remain open in Orange and Green Zones. The Central Government haves asked to Indian States to submit their recommendation on the modalities of Lockdown 4.0 latest by Friday. India Today TV has learned that Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam and Telangana have said they want the lockdown to be extended to contain spread of Covid-19. Punjab has favored continuation of a strict lockdown and said that states need to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid-19 containment and a defined path of economic revival. Sikkim, which does not have any Covid-19 case so far, has also demanded stricter lockdown to continue. Sikkim said its economy is largely based on tourism and it any relaxation with other states may spread the virus in the state as well. Besides this, in Lockdown 4.0. mass transport may see phase-wise resumption. The Centre says easing of public transport like bus, railways and domestic airlines are likely to be allowed in the next few days. However, states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Bihar have said they are not in favour of complete resumption of train and air services till May-end. The Centre meanwhile is looking at allowing limited relaxation for local trains, buses and metro-rail services in non-containment areas in Red Zones. As per sources, auto-rickshaw and taxis may also be allowed in Red zones with restrictions on the number of passengers. However, these too will only be allowed in non-containment areas. In regards to opening of market places, the Centre is likely to allow the states/UTs to decide whether they want to allow markets to remain open in Orange and Red Zones. In Delhi, the government may implement an odd-even policy to allow shops of non-essential goods to operate. Sources say under Lockdown 4.0, e-commerce platforms may be allowed to deliver non-essential items even in Red Zones, except in containment areas. Sources said that since most states have different level of performance and preparation to deal with covid-19, each state cannot have a tailor made lockdown or relaxation.

 

New Delhi, 16.05.2020

Third tranche of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’: Agriculture sector gets ₹1.5-lakh-cr booster

To ensure ‘Atma Nirbhartha’ (self-reliance) at the grass-root level, the Government on Friday came out with a comprehensive package for agriculture sector including barrier-free inter trade of agriculture produce and taking out six ley agriculture produce from the ambit of Essential Commodities Act. In the third tranche of measures for revival of the economy affected severely due to Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented 11 measures for agriculture and allied activities. This includes eight liquidity measures totalling Rs 1.50 lakh crore for various activities, including infrastructure development, and the remaining three are related to governance reforms. With these, a total of 36 measures with fiscal and liquidity support of Rs 9.90 lakh crore under ‘Atamnirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self Reliant Campaign)’, mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 12, haven been announced. Now, two more rounds of announcements expected on Saturday and Sunday. Sitharaman said that a central law has been proposed to facilitate adequate choices to the farmer to sell produce at an attractive price, barrier-free Inter-State Trade and framework for e-trading of agriculture produce. As on date restriction on farmers to sell their produce in local Agriculture Produce Market Committee authorised mandi makes it challenging to get a better price which proposed law intends to remove. When asked about the possibility of central law for the marketing of agriculture produce as State’s subject, the Minister informed that interstate trade falls in Central list so that legislation can be made. Supplementing this, Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said for any subject in the concurrent list, central law will prevail over state law, and here some issues are in the concurrent list so that Centre can make a law. Another major reform is related to an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act 1955 to take out Agriculture foodstuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato from its ambit. It means no requirement of stock limit in normal circumstances. However, Sitharaman said that it could be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with the surge in prices. However, it will not apply to processors or value chain participant, subject to their installed capacity or any exporter subject to the export demand. The third reform is related to preparing a legal framework to enable farmers for engaging with processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters etc. fairly and transparently for better price realisation. Such a structure will also help in risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns and quality standardisation. NABARD will facilitate Rs 1 lakh crore finance for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate & aggregation points (Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies, Farmers Producer Organisations, Agriculture entrepreneurs, Startups, etc.). Another measure talks about Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFE). This will help nearly 2 lakh MFEs to achieve technical up-gradation to attain FSSAI food standards, build brands and marketing. Sitharaman informed that such units would promote vocal for local with global outreach with a cluster-based approach. Produce such as Makhana in Bihar, Mango in UP, Kesar in J&K, Bamboo shoots in North-East, Chilli in Andhra Pradesh, Tapioca in Tamil Nadu etc. will get support for the domestic and global market. Finance Minister informed allocation of Rs 20,000 crore for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). This will include Rs 11,000 r for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture while Rs. 9000 crore to be spent on developing fishing Harbours, cold chain, markets etc. She said that the new scheme is estimated to have additional fish production of 70 lakh tonnes over five years, generate employment to over 55 lakh persons and help in doubling exports to Rs 1 lakh crore.

 

New Delhi, 16.05.2020

World Bank approves $1 billion (Eur 0.92 billion) to support India's fight against Covid-19

The World Bank on Friday (15.05.2020) approved USD 1 billion (Eur 0.92 billion)  'Accelerating India's COVID-19 Social Protection Response Program' to support the country's efforts for providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the pandemic. This takes the total commitment from the World Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to USD 2 billion (Eur 1.84 billion).  A USD 1 billion (Eur 0,92 billion) support was announced last month to support India's health sector.The response to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world has required governments around the world to introduce social distancing and lockdowns in unprecedented ways. These measures, intended to contain the spread of the virus have, however, impacted economies and jobs – especially in the informal sector. India with the world's largest lockdown has not been an exception to this trend.

 

New Delhi, 15.05.2020

Goods exports fall 60.28 per cent in April as virus takes its toll

India’s exports of goods in April 2020 fell 60.28 per cent to $ 10.36 billion (year-on-year), the steepest fall in over 25 years, with almost all major sectors such as gems & jewellery, garments and textiles, carpets, leather, engineering goods and petroleum products, posting a sharp fall. “The decline in exports has been mainly due to the ongoing global slowdown, which got aggravated due to the current Covid-19 crisis. The latter resulted in large scale disruptions in supply chains and demand leading to the cancellation of orders,” according to an official release. Imports declined 58.65 per cent to $ 17.12 billion in April 2020 with the sharpest drop in sectors such as electronics, petroleum, machinery, coal and chemicals, according to figures released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry on Friday. Trade deficit shrunk to $ 6.76 billion in April 2020 compared to $15.33 billion deficit in April 2019. Exporters have sought additional measures from the government to help support the sector at this time of crisis when exports in all major sectors, except for pharmaceuticals and iron ore, have declined. The sharp fall in employment-intensive sectors of exports has severe ramifications for jobs in the country particularly as domestic demand will also not be robust, pointed out Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations, who added that this was the sharpest fall in over two-and-a-half decades. Saraf said the government may consider providing additional incentives under existing schemes such as MEIS, the scope for which could be widened. FIEO also suggested that the government should allow rollover of forward cover without interest and penalty and automatic enhancement of limit by 25 per cent to address liquidity challenges. While the package for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises announced by the government would provide liquidity infusion, units need straight forward fiscal support like waiving of electricity charges, water bills, and wage support for survival, said Ravi Sehgal from the Engineering Export Promotion Council. “Besides, all dues and refunds should be immediately released to enable exporters tide over this unprecedented crisis,” he added. In March 2020, India’s goods exports declined 34.57 per cent to $21.41 billion, pulling down overall export figures for The financial year 2019-20 by 4.78 per cent to $314.31 billion.

 

New Delhi, 15.05.2020

G20 meet: India proposes pact to use TRIPS flexibilities for access to cheap medicines

India asked other members of the G20 (or called the Group of Twenty, composed from international leaders, including Ministers of Finance and  Central Bank Governors of 19 countries and the European Union) to work on an agreement that would enable countries to use the flexibilities provided in the existing global intellectual property pact TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking at the second meeting of G20 trade and investment ministers held on May 14, 2020, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal also asked members to agree to provide diagnostic and protective equipment and health professionals across the border, where are most needed. This demand is significant as such an agreement will allow nations to issue mandatory licenses to make generic copies of essential patented medicines that could be made available to people at much lower prices than the patented versions. The G20 is a grouping of 20 influential members worldwide including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
 

New Delhi, 13.05.2020

PM Modi’s mission self-reliance: Make in India, lower import dependence

India will fire on all cylinders to achieve self-reliance and could offer tax standard operating procedures (SOPs), procurement preference in government contracts for domestically produced goods while imposing stringent non-tariff barriers to discourage imports. Measures for sectors such as pharmaceuticals, furniture and leather are in focus and states could be asked to revamp their procurement processes to prefer local manufacturing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday (12.05.2020) that the Covid-19 crisis has taught us the importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains. “All our demands during the crisis were met locally. Now, it is time to be vocal about local products and help these local products become global,” he said. The government will look at areas where it has capability but continues to import, officials said. The commerce and industry ministry has identified medical textiles, electronics, plastics and toys as some sectors where local manufacturing and exports can be promoted in the next three months, or phase one, while phase two products include gems and jewellery, pharma and steel, in the next six months.

 

New Delhi, 12.05.2020

Covid-19 update: Indian Prime Minister Modi announces economic relief package worth ₹20 lakh crore

On 12th May 2020, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India). PM Modi noted that this package, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during covid-19 crisis and decisions taken by RBI, is to the tune of ₹20 lakh crore (EUR 245 billion approx.), which is equivalent to almost 10% of India’s GDP. Prime Minister said that several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as covid-19, can be negated in future. This special economic package is for our labourers, farmers, honest taxpayers, MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) and cottage industry and it will have emphasis on land, labour, liquidity and laws. Soon the Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman will announce further details of this special economic package.

 

New Delhi, 11.05.2020

International tourism could decline by 60-80% in 2020: United Nations

International tourism could decline by 60-80 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the revenue loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion and placing millions of livelihoods at risk, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has stated. The global international agency said that the pandemic has caused a 22 per cent fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020. According to the United Nations specialized agency, the global health crisis could lead to an annual tourism decline between 60 percent and 80 percent when compared with the 2019 figures. Arrivals in March dropped sharply by 57 per cent following the start of a lockdown in many countries, as well as the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders. This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about $80 billion in receipts (exports from tourism). Although Asia and the Pacific shows the highest impact in relative and absolute terms (a decline of 33 million arrivals), the impact in Europe, though lower in percentage, is quite high in volume (-22 million).

 

New Delhi, 10.05.2020

India-Italy Ties: Exclusive Interview with Italy's Ambassador to India

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7JScOlqWEw&feature=youtu.be

 

New Delhi, 10.05.2020

Italy, India and a common thread in partnership

What in India is commonly known as Lockdown 3.0 has been defined “Phase 2” in Italy. Regardless of how we call it, the stage that both countries entered that Monday reflects the same endeavour: first, we needed to put our economies and societies on hold to contain the virus; now while still working to strengthen our preparedness and our response to this global challenge, we need to be able to look forward and give our citizens and our businesses a positive outlook in the immediate future.Like India, Italy is also a country whose economy has a solid manufacturing base. That Monday, the new measures adopted by the Italian government allowed 4.5 million people to go back to work: the heart of our economic system started pulsating again. Nearly 50 economic and industrial activities were allowed on a national scale. In parallel, the government adopted new measures to make sure that the nearly three million people employed in the public sector would be able to develop digital processes and streamlined procedures so as to support the prompt resumption of activities by the private sector. It is something that we are also doing here in India, by developing the “Digital Embassy” project that will allow us to create many tools and processes to virtually interact and support our nationals, our businesses and our Indian counterparts. The endgame in Italy is to allow our entire workforce (roughly 24 million people) to recommence their activities. This need not come at the price of safety: the relevant Italian institutions have already defined adequate directives for workplaces and public places. These are based on measures that will resonate with the reader: wearing of face covers; thermal scanning; frequent sanitisation; adequate distancing. About the latter, I avoided the adjective “social” because I believe that it would be more appropriate to talk about physical distancing: sociality will be very much alive, just a little bit different than before. The resumption of industrial activities happens in a framework where financial support to businesses and citizens has already been launched both at the national and the European Union (EU) level. In terms of national financial resources, the Italian government has already provided guarantees up to €500 billion to make sure that Italian businesses can have access to the necessary liquidity. It has also adopted measures to support families and small and medium enterprises through grants, loans, debt rescheduling and other form of financial support. Furthermore, the Italian government was the first one to sign a protocol with trade unions for health safety at the workplace. The EU is also doing its part and has reached an agreement on three important safety nets for workers, businesses and sovereigns, amounting to a package worth €540 billion. The establishment of a recovery fund has also been agreed upon. The lockdown adopted by the Italian government is paying out. The numbers related to COVID-19 in Italy still deserve our utmost attention and we will not lower our guard until this threat to public health is removed. And, of course, in case of a resurgence of the contagion, we stand ready to introduce restrictive measures again to counter it effectively. Maybe it is early to draw any lesson from this crisis, but it is already possible to say that the future that we will shape in the post-COVID-19 scenario will have very much to do with our ability to bring public goods and global commons at the centre of the political narrative and agenda. In this mindset, Italy and India will have an extraordinary chance to closely cooperate in the next months, since they will be holding the consecutive Presidencies (Italy in 2021 and India in 2022) of the G20, one of the world’s main fora for global governance. This will prove a unique opportunity to shape the international discourse around priorities that both countries hold dear: from taking advantage of our economic complementarity to strengthening our partnership based on shared values, on our thriving creating industries, scientific knowledge and technological prowess; from the development of a rules-based international system to the promotion of just trade, inclusive growth and the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. In this endeavour we will support an effective multilateral system, which would be the best political accelerator to win our battle against the novel coronavirus and to promote a sustainable, equitable and durable recovery. In this process we will not lose sight of the fight against climate change, since Italy will co-host the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties, COP26, in 2021, together with the United Kingdom, and India is one of the world’s major responsible stakeholders. In a nutshell, at both bilateral and multilateral levels, our dialogue will be based on the main tenets of innovation and sustainability. Innovation because this crisis has transformed the urge to develop new ideas, methods, processes and devices into the “new normal”; sustainability because, paraphrasing a popular saying: “we did not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrowed it from our children”.

(Text by the Ambassador of Italy in New Delhi, Vincenzo de Luca)

 

New Delhi, 10.05.2020

India's fuel consumption dips 46 per cent in April, expected to rebound in May

India's fuel consumption fell almost 46 per cent in April as all petroleum products, except Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), saw massive demand erosion following the nationwide lockdown that halted economic activity and travel. The demand, which showed signs of pick up in the last 10 days of April after the government allowed resumption of economic activity beyond the urban municipal limit, is likely to rebound in second half of May as more areas are opened. India's fuel consumption fell 45.8 per cent to 9.929 million tonnes in April, down from 18.32 million tonnes fuel consumed in the same month a year back, according to official data released by the petroleum ministry. Fuel consumption during March, when travel restrictions began to be imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, stood at 16.08 million tonnes.

 

New Delhi, 06.05.2020

After being locked down, Indian companies now set to suffer labour pain

Entrepreneurs and exporters are struggling to crank up operations just when the government has relaxed stern restrictions, because labourers have imposed a virtual lockdown by returning home in droves. Apart from labourers anxious to return home after over a month of rough, jobless existence, businesses are also being squeezed by problems of logistics and transportation and financial hardships owing to the lockdown. April-June quarter would be a washout even for the high and mighty, but would be catastrophic for SMEs. They will have to deal with it by incentivising workers at least for sites that need urgent attention due to the onset of monsoon. Hopefully, supply of raw material will smoothen out soon. Projects may miss deadlines. As the supply chain for construction materials is expected to be normalised in the next few weeks, insufficient labour strength could severely impact the construction operations in the weeks to come

 

New Delhi, 05.05.2020

Export standard operating procedures (SOPs) likely to continue till March 2021

The commerce and industry ministry is considering a plan to extend the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) till March 31, 2021. The proposal was mentioned in a letter to development commissioners of special economic zones from the Department of Commerce.India is likely to continue export incentives crore till next year as the government looks to cushion the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s outward shipments.

 

New Delhi, 03.05.2020

Lockdown 3.0 begins tomorrow with ‘considerable relaxations’; some curbs to continue

The third phase of the countrywide lockdown will begin on Monday with “considerable relaxations”, but curbs will continue in containment areas so that the gains achieved so far in the fight against Covid-19 are not “squandered away”, officials said Sunday. The country has been divided in three zones — Red, Orange and Green — based on coronavirus risk-profiling. According to the Home Ministry, activities prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the zones, are: air, rail, metro travel; inter-state movement by road; schools, colleges, and other educational, training and coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants. Places of large public gatherings like those of cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and religious or public worship places are prohibited. However, movement of individuals for non-essential activities in all zones, barring containment areas, is allowed but strictly between 7 AM and 7 PM. Barber shops, spas and salons in Green and Orange zones is allowed to open, as is the sale of non-essential items by e-commerce firms. Sale of liquor will be allowed with certain conditions in all zones, barring containment area, in standalone shops, not in markets or malls. In all liquor shops, customers will have to maintain a minimum six-feet distance, and no more than five persons allowed at one time. These operations were not allowed during the first two phases of lockdown, when sale of non-essentials by e-commerce companies was also not allowed. The list of permitted activities also include: OPDs and medical clinics in all zones with social distancing norms and other precautions. However, these will not be permitted in containment zones. All goods traffic will be permitted and no state or UT shall stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. In all zones, persons above 65 years of age, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and children below 10 years shall stay at home, except for essential and health purposes. The movement of people by air, rail and road is allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by the MHA. In containment areas, movements of people is totally banned and essential services are delivered at the doorsteps. In Red zones (outside the containment areas), some additional activities are prohibited: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, taxis and cab-aggregators; intra-district and inter-district buses, barber shops, spas and saloons. Certain other activities have been allowed in the Red zone with restrictions: Movement of individuals and vehicles for permitted activities with a maximum of 2 persons (besides the driver) in four-wheelers, no pillion rider on two-wheelers. In Red zones, e-commerce companies are allowed to sell only essential commodities. Barber shops and salons are not allowed to open. On domestic helps in red zones, resident welfare associations should take a call on allowing in outsiders. If allowed by RWAs, health protocols have to be maintained by the domestic helps and employers, and the responsibility lies with the employer, in case of any mishappening. Industrial establishments in urban areas, like Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Export Oriented Units (EOUs), industrial estates and industrial townships with access control have been permitted from Monday in all zones, except containment areas. Private offices can operate in red zones with up to 33 per cent strength with the remaining persons working from home. Other activities allowed outside containment areas of a Red Zone (with restrictions) in urban areas are: manufacturing of essential goods like drugs, medical devices and their supply chain, manufacturing of IT hardware, jute industry, construction (if workers residing on site). Operations of homes for senior citizens, children, destitute etc., government offices, and emergency, health, sanitation and security services. In Orange zones, all activities permitted in red zone (outside containment zone) and taxi and cab aggregators (driver with 2 passengers only) are allowed. Inter-district movement of people and vehicles for permitted activities, 4 wheelers with 2 passengers besides driver, pillion riding on 2 wheelers are allowed. However, inter and intra-district movements of buses, except those permitted by the MHA, is prohibited. In Green zones, all activities are permitted except the ones prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the zone. However, buses can operate with up to 50 per cent seating capacity and depots too at 50 per cent. In rural areas, industrial and construction activities; agriculture, animal husbandry and plantation, financial sector including banks, NBFCs, public utilities, courier and postal services; media; IT, ITeS, warehouses services by self-employed persons, except barbers. States and U/Ts may put certain restrictions based on their assessment. A district is considered in ‘Green’ zone if there are no confirmed cases so far or there has been no reported case for the past 21 days. According to the Union Health Ministry, as on Friday, there were 130 ‘Red’ zones, maximum of 19 in UP, followed by 14 in Maharashtra. The number of ‘Orange’ Zones was 284 and ‘Green’ was 319. All the districts of the national capital have been put under ‘Red’ zone.

 

New Delhi, 02.05.2020

Indian Carmakers  record zero sales for the Month of April 2020

India’s top carmakers couldn’t ship a single vehicle to dealers in April as they shut production after India announced the world’s biggest stay-at-home restrictions to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which produces about half the cars on India’s roads, and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the nation’s biggest SUV maker, recorded no sales in the domestic market last month. Hyundai Motors India Ltd. too couldn’t sell a single unit last month. As per the automotive analysts, the total lockdown is hurting local vehicle makers, who sold more than 2.8 million cars, SUVs and vans each month in the year ended March, more than peers in other countries. With the economy set for a rare contraction, the outlook for the car manufacturers remains bleak. They are losing 23 billion rupees ($306 million) each day factories remain closed, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. 

 

New Delhi, 27.04.2020

Indian government plans reform measures in Agriculture, Manufacturing sectors

In India, as a part of its strategy to combat the bruising impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the government is examining a significant number of reforms along with staggered stimulus packages aimed at various stressed sectors of the economy. The process of identifying reforms has started across sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services. The focus is on ensuring that the country emerges a manufacturing hub and the ‘Make in India’ initiative gets accelerated. The agriculture sector has been identified as a crucial sector where pending reforms, from marketing reforms, access to credit to using more technology, all options were being discussed as a part of the 10-priority area strategy of the Prime Minister once the lockdown ends.

 

New Delhi, 25.04.2020

India pays USD 4.8 billion (Euro 4.42 billion) to its poor to ease Virus woes

India distributed about USD 14 (Euro 12.9) each to more than 350 million people to ease their financial stress amid a nationwide lockdown enforced to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, the government said. The assistance totaling more than INR 370 billion (Euro 4.42 billion) was given under a state program named “PM Garib Kalyan”. The beneficiaries include not only the poor in urban and rural areas, migrant workers, but also old age pensioners, widows, building and construction workers. The government has also increased wages under a rural employment guarantee program to put more money in the hands of the poor, extended concessional loans to farmers, set up community kitchens to distribute meals, and allowed some industries to operate in rural areas, said a government spokesman in a statement.

 

New Delhi, 24.04.2020

Nepal, Bangladesh raise with Indian state of Bengal’s decision to halt trade

Nepal and Bangladesh have raised with India, the West Bengal government’s decision to halt cross-border trade through its territory on the grounds that movement of trucks might spread Covid-19 infection in the state. The problem for India has been compounded because Bangladesh has continued to provide transit facility for goods to landlocked northeast. The issue for Dhaka is acute as it requires goods, including food items, for the Ramadan season. Nepal and Bhutan’s bilateral trade goes through different border crossings, but a good chunk goes through Jaigaon (West Bengal, for Bhutan) and Panitanki (West Bengal, for Nepal). As far as Bangladesh is concerned, bulk of India’s road-based trade goes through West Bengal.

 

New Delhi, 22.04.2020

FMCG output to remain scaled down as half the factories are in red zones in India

Almost half the manufacturing plants of top consumer product companies such as Colgate, ITC, Britannia, Nestle, Dabur and Bajaj Consumer are located at Covid-19 hotspots, indicating that production shortage could continue even after the nationwide lockdown is relaxed. Out of 157 units owned by pureplay listed fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms, 68 facilities, or 43%, are in Covid-19 red zone districts, mainly in Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Sourcing of raw material and movement of products within the affected region is another big issue faced by FMCG companies, companies said. The central government has said stringent containment measures will continue in hotspots where no activities barring essential services will be allowed. “Restarting of manufacturing units will be a key challenge for FMCG companies and will depend on the impact of Covid-19 in their respective locations,” said Abhijeet Kundu, an analyst at Antique Stock Broking. “This will have a bearing on the overall capacity utilisation, sales and supply chain across companies.” According to an Antique analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on FMCG production units, 46% factories of the country’s largest FMCG player Hindustan Unilever are in are in hotspot regions while the number is as high as 61% for its rival ITC.

 

New Delhi, 20.04.2020

Govt unlikely to exempt GST on masks, ventilators, PPEs as it would lead to blocking of input tax credit: Sources

The government is unlikely to exempt GST on medical items like ventilators, PPEs, masks, test kits and sanitisers, as it would lead to blocked input tax credit (ITC), thereby increasing the cost of manufacturing and increase the price for consumers, sources said.There have been demands from certain sections to exempt GST on certain items like ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks, test kits and sanitisers that are essential items for treatment of COVID-19 saying that GST exemption on these items would lead to reduction in prices. Currently, GST rate on ventilator is 12 per cent; on mask, it is 5 per cent; on test kits, it is 12 per cent; on sanitiser, it is 18 per cent; and on PPE, it is 5 per cent (costing up to Rs 1,000) and 12 per cent (if the cost is more that Rs 1,000 per piece). Sources said GST exemption on such items would lead to blocked input tax credit (ITC), thereby increasing the cost of manufacturing and a higher price for consumers. GST exemption on such items would jeopardise the interest of the industry and would not result in any significant gains to consumer, they said adding that in the past, GST exemption on sanitary napkin has led to similar situation for the domestic manufacturers. The sources said that while consumers do not gain from GST exemption on these items, the compliance burden would increase for manufacturers as they would be required to maintain separate account of inputs, input services and capital goods used for manufacture of these items. In case, they are not in a position to maintain separate account, they shall be required to reverse the input tax credit on all inputs/ input services used in manufacture of exempted PPE after applying detailed calculations. Further, exempting these items would lead to blockage of ITC for domestic manufacturer but importers would not suffer any such blockage, the sources added. Earlier this month, the government exempted basic customs duty and health cess on these items (except sanitiser) till September 30. The sources said that while the elimination of customs duty may have been detrimental to domestic manufacturing, it was done to meet the immediate need of such goods to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, considering that domestic supply may not have been sufficient to meet the increased requirement.

 

New Delhi, 19.04.2020

RBI assumes protective role, asks banks not to pay dividend for FY20

The move by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), asking scheduled commercial and cooperative banks to not pay further dividend for FY20 till September 30, 2020, is being seen as a pre-emptive move to protect the balance sheet of lenders.“It is imperative that banks conserve capital to retain their capacity to support the economy, and absorb losses in an environment of heightened uncertainty,” the regulator said in a statement. Experts say the decision is a step in the right direction, as the Covid-19 impact on asset quality is difficult to gauge. Anil Gupta, sector head (financial sector ratings), ICRA, believes the RBI wants banks to conserve capital by restricting dividend payouts, given the degree of asset quality pain banks could face is uncertain. Though banks don’t need to consider the moratorium period while classifying accounts as bad loans, there is scepticism on slippage and overall asset quality of banks once the moratorium is lifted. Moreover, in the past, there have been instances of divergence in classification of bad loans declared by banks, and the RBI’s assessment. Top private banks paid Rs 6,600 crore in dividend during FY19; some have announced interim dividend for FY20 but haven’t paid them so far. The situation is more challenging for PSBs, which have a weaker capital position and are just emerging from significant losses since the past few years. However, even as dividend payment is being curtailed, it is unlikely to boost the capital of banks.However, even as dividend payment is being curtailed, it is unlikely to boost the capital of banks. “Though the profit position of PSBs is expected to be marginally positive in FY20, the amount of dividend will be significantly lower than the balance sheet size or past peak dividend payments,” says Jindal Haria, director (financial institutions), India Ratings. According to India Ratings, PSBs may report Rs 15,000-20,000 crore in net profit for FY20. In normal course, this would lead to dividend payout of up to Rs 2,000-3,000 crore. The amount is inconsequential, considering State of Bank of India’s loan book of Rs 23 trillion as of December 2019. According to India Ratings, PSBs may report Rs 15,000-20,000 crore in net profit for FY20. In normal course, this would lead to dividend payout of up to Rs 2,000-3,000 crore. The amount is inconsequential, considering State of Bank of India’s loan book of Rs 23 trillion as of December 2019 In FY18 and FY19, PSBs did not pay dividend amid losses/weak profits. This also raises doubts on their ability to pay dividend for FY20. In case of private lenders, an analyst from a domestic brokerage says: “Given the dividend payment track record, the amount of capital support will not be significant.” While a few experts foresee some support for small private banks, the same remains to be seen. On the flip side, the measure will impact investment income of companies that own significant stake in banks. For instance, HDFC receives over Rs 1,000 crore in dividend from HDFC Bank.

 

New Delhi, 18.04.2020

Air India opens bookings on select domestic routes from May 4, international from June 1

Air India on Saturday announced it has opened bookings on select domestic and international routes from May 4 and June 1, respectively. "In the light of the ongoing global health concerns, we have currently stopped accepting bookings on all domestic flights for travel till May 3, 2020, and on all international flights for travel till May 31, 2020," a notification on Air India's website said on Saturday. This means the national carrier's domestic and international flights will remain suspended till May 3 and May 31, respectively. "Bookings for select domestic flights for travel from May 4, 2020, and for international flights for travel from June 1, 2020 onwards are open," it stated. India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of novel coronavirus. The first phase of the lockdown was from March 25 to April 14. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14 extended the lockdown till May 3. All domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended during this period. On April 3, Air India had said it has stopped bookings, both domestic and international, till the end of the month.

 

New Delhi, 18.04.2020

The coronavirus lockdown has massively disrupted India's supply chain, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Saturday.

Speaking at a virtual session on 'COVID-19 & The Future of Work', Kant further said the pandemic has created a unique challenge, which is complex and unpredictable. "We are passing through a very turbulent time. Our supply chain will get massively disrupted," he said. India is on a 40-day lockdown till May 3 to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Also participating in the session, World Bank Country Director (India) Junaid Kamal Ahmad said for developing countries, it is important that the state changes the way it works. He added that Ayushman Bharat scheme was a great step but in the coming years, it is imperative to ensure India goes beyond it. Teamlease chairman Manish Sabharwal said, "Work from home has provided continuity but also has to ensure productivity. In the long run, we have to ensure that remote working is beneficial for all."

New Delhi, 18.04.2020

COVID-19 lockdown has severely disrupted supply chains: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

RBI measures to boost liquidity, incentivise banks to lend more: Finance minister

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has taken a slew of steps to maintain adequate liquidity in the system, incentivise bank credit flows, ease financial stress and enable normal functioning of markets, following difficulties being faced due to COVID-19. Announcing a second stimulus in less than a month, the RBI eased bad-loan rules, froze dividend payment by lenders and pushed banks to lend more by cutting the reverse repo rate by 25 basis points to help mitigate risk to the economy posed by the pandemic. "In view of the difficulties being faced due to #COVID19, the @RBI has taken a slew of steps aimed at maintaining adequate liquidity in the system, incentivising bank credit flows, easing financial stress, and enabling the normal functioning of markets," Sitharaman said in a tweet.
 

New Delhi, 17.04.2020

RBI cuts reverse repo rate by 25 bps to 3.75%: Key points

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das on Friday addressed the media amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This comes just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss contours of a proposed stimulus package to kick-start India's stalled economy. Here are the key points from RBI governor's address:
"Under liquidity adjustment facility (LAF), reverse repo rate (rate at which RBI borrows funds from banks) reduced by 25 basis points (bps) to 3.75%; repo rate -- rate at which RBI lends money to banks -- unchanged (4.40%) as the decision is taken by the Monetary Policy Committee". 

 

New Delhi, 17.04.2020

Aviation sector to take 6-24 months to recover from COVID-19 blow: Survey

The aviation industry may take between six months to two years to recover from the severe blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey carried out by global consultancy ICF. The survey, conducted among senior and mid-level executives from across the world between late March and early April, also revealed that there may be increased scrutiny placed on the health and sanitary conditions of individual countries that could impact air service and passenger demand. "The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a total or partial shutdown of their business. As to how long business activity will remain depressed, nearly half of respondents expect the slowdown to last three to four months. One-third of respondents, however, think it can last five months to one year. In contrast, nearly half of respondents expect recovery will take up to two years," as per the survey.

New Delhi, 17.04.2020

India working with global partners to develop vaccines to fight Covid-19: Health ministry

The Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) on Friday said that India is working with global partners so that effective vaccines can be developed to fight against Covid-19. "We are also working on viral sequencing and vaccine development. India is working with global partners so that effective vaccines can be developed to fight against Covid-19. It is a time-consuming effort. We are trying to speed up these processes," Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary, health and family Welfare said here during the daily briefing on Covid-19. "Compared to other countries we are doing good. We need to improve our efforts further," he added. He said that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs are developing indigenous designs for PPEs, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and other ancillary support devices. "CSIR labs are working on indigenous manufacturing of rapid testing kits and rapid antibody kits. We will be able to make 10 lakh kits/month of each type by May," he added. Aggarwal said that the average growth rate factor, which is calculated as a proportion of the number of cases of a day compared to the previous day, is witnessing a decline of 40 per cent. "We have been witnessing an average growth factor at 1.2 since April 1 which stood at 2.1 (average) between March 15- March 31. Hence, there is 40 per cent decline in average growth factor even as we increased Covid-19 testings," he said. Aggarwal informed that a total of 1,749 people have been cured, which is equal to 13.6 per cent of the cases. "With 1,007 fresh cases of coronavirus reported in the last 24 hours, the total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country has reached 13,387. A total of 23 new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours," added Aggarwal. 

New Delhi, 16.04.2020

E-commerce platforms to sell mobiles, TV, fridge after Apr 20 amid lockdown

Mobile phones, televisions, refrigerators, laptops and stationary items will be allowed to be sold through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal from April 20 during the lockdown, officials said on Thursday. The clarification from a senior home ministry official came a day after Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued revised guidelines for the extended lockdown period till May 3. Electronic items like the mobile phones, TVs, laptops will be available on the e-commerce platforms from April 20, the official said. However, the delivery vans of the e-commerce companies will need permission from authorities for plying on the roads. According to Wednesday's guidelines, commercial and private establishments were allowed to operate during the extended lockdown.

New Delhi, 16.04.2020

Lockdown impact: imported raw material scarcity hits FMCG goods production

While the Centre has kept the major ports and the airports in the country open to allow freight movement in times of the ongoing lockdown, limited evacuation of imported raw material to factories is creating production hurdles for FMCG companies. All FMCG firms are already reeling under the pressure of manpower curbs at the plants and shortage of trucks to ferry goods. On top of it, they now have to deal with raw material scarcity. ITC has been focussing solely on the production and supply of essential items like foodstuff and sanitisation products after scaling down operations. Its factories have stopped making cigarettes for the time being. HUL’s sales have dropped to 40 per cent of the usual daily run rate, after scaling up from low single digits in the last week of March. HUL’s factories are operating at about 40 per cent of the required output.

New Delhi, 15.04.2020

COVID-19: Recession will take its toll on defence budget

The ministry of defence (MoD) is among the 31 ministries that have been called upon by the ministry of finance (MoF) to restrict the overall expenditure to 20 per cent of the current year’s total allocation in the first quarter. There is furthermore a sub-limit of 8 per cent on expenditure in April and 6 per cent each for the next two months. The restriction – imposed to cope with the financial stress created by the spread of novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – is applicable to the capital and revenue budget of the armed forces and, surprisingly, even to defence pensions. Expenditure on pensions, however, cannot be contained within 8 per cent in April. This is because pensions for March are also paid and debited to the account in April. The following two months of May and June will also pose a similar challenge, as there are no major variations changes in pension disbursement amounts that works out to a little over 8 per cent per month. The restriction on the overall cash outgo on pensions may, therefore, give rise to unnecessary speculation about timely disbursement for the present and the two subsequent months. The MoF or the MoD must eliminate this confusion immediately in order to allay the pensioners’ fears. The restriction on expenditure from the MoD (Civil) budget, which caters to the needs of such organisations like the Indian Coast Guard and Border Roads Organisation, is even more severe. These, and other such organisations funded from the civil budget, will now have to keep the expenditure for each of the three months of the first quarter in FY 2020-21 to within 5 per cent of the total annual allocation. Considering the financial havoc wrecked by COVID-19 pandemic, it will be naïve to believe that these restrictions will be temporary. If anything, the restrictions may be even more stringent later this year and, in fact, continue well into the next many years as the battered economy limps back to some semblance of its former normalcy. The current restrictions are evidently intended to manage the cash flow during the first quarter, but with the pandemic taking its toll on the government’s financial resources, it will not at all be a surprise if the allocation is slashed to repair the damage caused by what is fast becoming an apocalyptic nightmare. All individual states, as indeed various sectors of the economy, are demanding massive fiscal packages from an impoverished centre which simply has no means of augmenting its resources in any substantial measure through higher taxation or borrowings from equally stressed taxpayers are also struggling to keep financially afloat. The defence establishment, for its part, has long been used to demanding large sums of money from the MoF, knowing well enough that there is no way the demand can be met. It has also insisted on making plans on the assumption that the asked-for amount will be made available to it by the MoF. This perennial shadow boxing has been in progress interminably, with no outcome in sight. Even the current year’s allocation for the services, for instance, is over Rs 1 lakh crore less than what they had demanded. It remains difficult to imagine how this demand could have been met by the finance minister in her budget without adversely impacting other critical sectors. It is unlikely that unlike last year when the MoD managed to tide over its financial woes due primarily to the infusion of over Rs 17,000 crore at the revised estimate stage, the MoF will be able to provide any additional funds this year. In fact, the military, as indeed other organisations, will be indeed fortunate if no further fiscal cuts are imposed. The present situation calls for dispassionate, pragmatic and unorthodox celebration on the MoD’s part. Since the expenditure on salaries and pensions cannot be curtailed, unless it is as a part of a larger policy decision of the central government for all its employees, the MoD is left with no option but to focus on curtailing expenditure in other areas. It needs to cast aside all its long- and medium-term plans and to formulate an emergency expenditure plan with the aim of restricting spending to the current year’s budgetary allocation, even if it means deferring imminent contracts and supply orders. It will, however, be counterproductive to suspend all ongoing procurements, especially those sourced indigenously as this, in turn, will lead to withholding payments to manufacturing units and service-providers, who too desperately need liquidity. The need of the hour right now is to support all these businesses which will eventually play a crucial role in reviving India’s economy. The prospect may appear frightening, but it would be expedient to be ready with a ‘Plan B’ also to cope with a probable 8-10 per cent budget cut on the overall defence outlay. And though it sounds harsh, it bears repeating that all inconsequential expenditure- and there is a substantial amount- must be ruthlessly excised. One cannot help but recall the words of Jon Huntsman, Jr, an American businessman, diplomat, and politician who said of the US defence outlay: If we can’t find cuts in the defence budget, we’re not looking carefully enough. This is not to underestimate or ignore the external threat or in any way deny the need for higher spending on defence, but merely to plead a financially pragmatic approach to defence planning and spending. Put bluntly, money has always been–and will continue to be–in short supply for years to come and everyone’s estimate of what is enough will always vary. The choice is fanciful; between continuing to formulate plans, pretending that money is somebody else’s problem on the one hand or alternatively acknowledging the fiscal reality and getting the bang for the buck. The latter, without doubt, appears to be the more rational option and must inform defence planning for the next five years or so, which is about the time it is expected to take to fix the economy.

 

New Delhi, 15.04.2020

Home Ministry New Lockdown Guidelines: Under the revised guidelines, a list of things that is allowed during the extended nationwide lockdown till May 3

A day after extending the Lockdown to May 3, the government Wednesday released revised guidelines under which activities like agriculture, IT, e-commerce and inter-state transport will be allowed to “mitigate hardships to public.” Under the revised guidelines, which come into effect from April 20, the exemptions from the lockdown have also been granted to all health services, financial services, MNREGA works, public utilities, the supply of goods, e-commerce and cargo services. The government has also made face masks mandatory in public as well as work spaced and also emphasised on practicing social distancing. Meanwhile, the death toll due to the coronavirus epidemic rose to 377 and the total number of infections crossed the 11,000-mark in India to reach 11,439. 

1) What is allowed

Health sector

  • All health services and the social sector to remain functional; public utilities to function without any hindrance
  • Chemists, pharmacies, veterinary hospitals to remain open. Manufacturing units of drugs, medical equipment, construction of media infrastructure to be allowed.

Farming sector

  • Farming operations, including procurement of agricultural products, agriculture marketing through notified Mandis and direct and decentralized marketing, manufacture, distribution and retail of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds; activities of marine and inland fisheries; animal husbandry activities, including the supply chain of milk, milk products, poultry and live-stock farming; and tea, coffee and rubber plantations are allowed to be functional.
  • Industries operating in rural areas, including food processing industries; construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings and industrial projects in rural areas; works under MNREGA, with priority to irrigation and water conservation works; and operation of rural Common Service Centres (CSCs) have all been allowed.
  • Operation of the fishing, aquaculture industry. Movement of fish products now allowed.
  • Operations of tea, coffee and rubber plantations, with maximum of 50 per cent worker.
  • Collection, processing, distribution and sale of milk and milk products.
  • Operation of animal husbandry farm.
  • Operation of animal shelter homes

Financial sector

  • The important components of the financial sector, e.g., RBI, banks, ATMs, capital and debt markets as notified by SEBI and insurance companies will also remain functional
  • SEBI, and capital and debt market services as notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India
  • IRDAI and Insurance companies

Social sector

  • Operation of homes for children, mentally disabled, senior citizens, destitutes
  • Operation of Anganwadis, observation homes. Disbursement of social security measures
  • MNREGA works are allowed with strict implementation of social distancing and face mask

Public utilities

  • Petrol pumps, LPG, Petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets
  • Generation, transmission and distribution of power at Central and State/UT levels
  • Postal services, including post offices
  • Operations at municipal, local body levels
  • Telecommunications and internet

Transport and Goods

  • Transportation of goods will be permitted without any distinction of essential or non essential.
  • Operation of railways, airports, seaports for transport of good and cargo movement
  • Operation of land ports for transport of essential services
  • Movement of all trucks with two drivers and one helper

Essential services

  • All facilities in supply chain of essential goods.
  • Shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder, fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. No restriction on timing. However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes.
  • Print and electronic media.
  • E-commerce operations, couriers services are allowed
  • Cold storage and warehousing services.
  • Data and call centers for Government activities only.
  • Hotels, home stays, lodges and motels, which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew.
  • Services provided by self-employed persons like electrician, plumber

Industries

  • In addition to manufacturing of essential goods and rural industries, establishments engaged in production of coal, mine, mineral, packaging material, jute, brick kilns
  • Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control will be allowed in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packaging can resume.

Construction

  • Construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings and all kinds of industrial projects
  • Construction of renewable energy products

Others

  • Defence, Central Armed Police Forces, Health and Family Welfare, Disaster management and Early Warning Agencies
  • Police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services
  • All other departments of State/UT to work with restricted staff

 

2) What is allowed

  • The activities prohibited across the country include travel by air, rail and road; operation of educational and training institutions; industrial and commercial activities; hospitality services; all cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres, etc.; all social, political and other events; and opening of all religious places/ places of worship for members of public, including religious congregations.
  • In containment zones, no unchecked inward/ outward movement of population would be allowed, except for maintaining essential services, i.e., medical emergencies and law & order duties, and government business continuity.
  • All educational institutions to remain shut
  • Gatherings of more than five persons has been banned. Spitting in public has been made punishable with a fine, and the ban of liquor, gutka, tobacco etc has been strictly imposed.

 

3) Penalities

The MHA has said action will be taken under Section 51 to 60 of the Act and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if any individual is found in violation of the guidelines.

 

New Delhi, 14.04.2020

Maharashtra industry, agriculture sector awaits the return of migrant labourers

Maharashtra Government is considering allowing industrial operations in districts where no Covid-19 cases or only a few have been reported. Also, the agricultural operations are likely to resume to avoid losses to farmers. However, the industry and agriculture sector is worried about the return of migrant labourers. Maharashtra is an automobile manufacturing hub of the country. The State is also a leader in agro and food processing industries. The economy of Maharashtra is mainly driven by manufacturing, finance, international trade, technology, petroleum, fashion, apparel, gems and jewellery, IT and ITeS and tourism. Skilled and unskilled labourers from other States play a pivotal role in running the State’s industries and agriculture sector. However, with the spread of coronavirus, the majority of labourers have returned to their States. “Even if Maharashtra Government decides to allow operations, it is going to be difficult to re-start work without labourers. Work is at standstill in Pune-Pimpri auto hub as the majority of workers here — from Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam and Uttar Pradesh — have headed home following the virus outbreak,” says Sandeep Belsare, President of Pimpri Chinchwad Small Scale Industries Association. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in its recommendation has stated that there are two aspects to this issue — the willingness of the workers to come back and the logistical facilitation for willing workers. The CII in its recommendation states, “Undertake an aggressive ‘messaging’ campaign on the preparedness of the government and the industry for the re-start. Facilitate tripartite dialogue between government, worker associations/unions and industry to allay the health and safety-related concerns of the workers.” It has also suggested a Covid-19 insurance scheme for migrant workers, for three months with part of the cost to be borne by the government and part by the industry. CII has also suggested that migrant workers could be issued e-passes by local authorities such as the BDO or the tehsildars, based on the industry requests. These could in the form of QR codes or SMS. Workers with e-passes should be allowed to travel to their place of the workforce.

 

New Delhi, 14.04.2020

IMF cuts India GDP growth to 1.9%, projects sharp contraction in global economy

Amid projection of sharp contraction in the global economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday cut India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Products) growth rate to 1.9 per cent in scal year 2020-21 starting April 1. However, it expects economy to bounce back strongly in scal 2021-22. In its latest version of World Economic Outlook (WEO), Gita Gopinath, Economic Counsellor at IMF, termed Covid-19 crisis like no other. First, the shock is large. The output loss associated with this health emergency and the related containment measures are likely to dwarf the losses triggered by the global nancial crisis. Second, like in a war  14/4/2020 IMF cuts India GDP growth to 1.9%, projects sharp contraction in global economy - The Hindu BusinessLine https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/imf-cuts-india-gdp-growth-to-19-projects-sharp-contraction-in-global-economy/article31340272.ece 2/4 or a political crisis, there is continued uncertainty about the duration and intensity of the shock. Third, under the current circumstances, there is a different role for economic policy. In normal crises, policymakers try to encourage economic activity by stimulating aggregate demand as quickly as possible. “This time, the crisis is to a large extent the consequence of needed containment measures. This makes stimulating activity more challenging and, at least for the most-affected sectors, undesirable,” she wrote in the foreword to the report which has been released with just one chapter titled ‘The Great Lockdown’. The full report will be released next month. For India, the report has projected GDP growth rate at 1.9 per cent for 2020-21, which is 3.9 per cent lower than the January outlook and 5.1 per cent lower than the projection made in October. However, GDP growth rate is estimated to jump to 7.4 per cent during 2021-22. This is almost one percentage point higher than the January estimate and unchanged from last October’s projection.

 

New Delhi, 14.04.2020

Con un discorso televisivo trasmesso in data odierna alla nazione, il Primo Ministro Indiano Narendra Modi ha annunciato la decisione di estendere il lockdown - iniziato il 25 marzo scorso e che sarebbe dovuto scadere oggi 14 aprile - fino al 3 maggio prossimo. Il Premier ha altresì ribadito che i controlli continueranno ad essere rigorosi almeno fino al 20 aprile prossimo; successivamente, in quelle aree/zone che avranno evidenziato un miglioramento dei casi, potra’ essere concesso un allentamento delle disposizioni nazionali e la ripresa - a determinate condizioni - di alcune attività.

 

New Delhi, 14.04.2020

Barclays slashes India growth in calendar 2020 to 0%, sharply revises lockdown losses

Barclays has cut its growth forecast for India to zero per cent for Calendar Year (CY) 2020 from 2.5 per cent earlier as the country heads into a longer complete shutdown (until May 3) to combat the rising number of Covid-19 cases. It has estimated the economic loss of the lockdown to be close to $234.4 billion than the previous estimate of $120 billion. Barclays Research, which is produced by the Investment Bank of Barclays Bank PLC and its affiliates, in a report, said the economic impact of Covid-19 looks set to be worse than it had expected earlier. “While we expect inventory rebuilding and some release of pent-up consumption to boost demand in June and Q3 (July-September) 2020, we think this effect is likely to be mild on account of precautionary savings, weak global demand and large job losses. “As such, the downward trajectory of the economy is likely to be deeper than we had expected. Hence, we cut our growth forecast to 0.0 per cent for CY2020 (from 2.5 per cent) and to 0.8 per cent for FY20-21 (from 3.5 per cent),” said Rahul Bajoria of Barclays Securities (India) Pvt Ltd.and Shreya Sodhani of Barclays Bank, Singapore, in a report. For CY2021, Barclays Research Department has lowered its GDP growth forecast to 7.5 per cent (from 8 per cent). While India’s Covid-19 outbreak has not officially reached the community transmission stage, Barclays believes the existing restrictions on movement are causing much more economic damage than anticipated. “In particular, despite being characterised as essential sectors, the negative impact of the shutdown measures on the mining, agriculture, manufacturing and utility sectors appears higher than we had expected,” the authors of the report said. Further, combined with the disruption in several service sectors, Barclay’s Research now estimates that the economic loss will be close to $234.4 billion (8.1 per cent of GDP), assuming that India will remain under a partial lockdown at least until the end of May. This is much higher than the $120 billion it had estimated earlier for roughly the same time period. “Once the lockdown is over, we think the pace of recovery will be contingent on policy support. Our trajectory of a slower recovery factors in the only modest fiscal stimulus unveiled by the government up to now. “We think this is unlikely to offset the negative impact on ‘animal spirits’ caused by relative inactivity for a long period,” the authors said. Major policy interventions, if taken, could, however, change the outcome and bring about a faster upswing after the lockdown opens. That said, the slowdown in early Q2 (April-June) will be driven entirely by the shutdown and is unlikely to be impacted by policy support.

 

New Delhi, 13.04.2020

Auto sales crash in March as lockdown takes a toll

The automobile industry witnessed one of the sharpest declines in domestic sales in March, reporting reported a massive fall on a year-on-year (YoY) basis in each category, said the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). “The month of March was one of the most challenging months for the auto sector as the 21-day lockdown resulted in bringing the production and sales of vehicles to a standstill in the last week. As the revenues took a severe hit, the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) struggled to meet fixed cost and working capital requirements,” said SIAM President Rajan Wadhera. The industry was already reeling under a severe de-growth and disrupted supply chains because of the pandemic, he said. This was followed by the majority of the auto companies announcing a shutdown of their manufacturing units due to concerns over ensuring the health of their employees, he added. From March 25, India has also been under a nationwide lockdown. “As per our estimates at SIAM, the auto industry is losing ₹2,300 crore in production turnover for every day of closure,” Wadhera said, adding that the industry is in talks with the government for policy measures which could minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, especially the auto industry. Per data released on Monday, passenger car sales declined 52 per cent YoY in March to 85,229 units (1,78,019 units in March 2019). Utility vehicle sales declined, for the time in many months, by 45 per cent to 51,569 units (93,206 units). The decline in the two segments led to a steep 51 per cent fall in the passenger vehicles category to 1,43,014 units (2,91,861 units). In the two-wheeler segment, scooter and motorcycle sales declined 32 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, YoY. Commercial vehicles sales were hit the most, plunging 88 per cent YoY to just 13,027 units (1,09,022 units).

 

New Delhi, 13.04.2020

The Covid-19’s impact on start-ups: Make use of the opportunity the coronavirus has provided

There are sectors that have benefited immensely on account of Covid-19-induced work-from-home compulsion. Some, like healthcare providers, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment start-ups have seen a direct bump in their revenues. Messaging platforms, edtech companies, home-delivery platforms, digital communication tech-based start-ups have seen a surge in demand for their products and services. Sectoral impact aside, the Covid-19-induced stress is also an opportunity to rationalise business expenses. Real estate costs, for example, can be very significant and can be reduced by as much as 20-30% during this time. I personally know of many businesses that have renegotiated their rental contracts and have locked in a much lower cost for the next 3-4 years. A lot of start-ups are making use of soft-prices at this time, and are making investments in technology or infrastructure to shore up their capabilities. They would certainly be ready when the world normalises, poised to take on additional market share. This is also the time when many start-ups have got much-needed respite from the operational, day-to-day hassle. This implies a time to reflect, remedy and resurrect. Many of them would pivot to a different model, but in the process emerge stronger and more focused on their objectives. There is a huge pressure to let go of your employees. As a start-up founder myself, facing a mountain of expenses, while there are no corresponding revenues, I feel the need to let go of people as well. However, knowing that my people are my firm’s best assets, I have refrained from doing so. Instead, I have taken the opportunity to reach out to them, revalidate my confidence in them, and in some cases sought discretionary reduction in their salaries. Not only have I grown closer to my team, but also as a firm we are better prepared to battle the new recessionary wave.This is not the last stand of hiumanity. Instead of wallowing in the gloom-and-doom scenario, brace yourself and make use of the opportunity that the coronavirus has provided. As a start-up, that is the only way to survive.

 

New Delhi, 13.04.2020

Covid-19 update: Wearing masks now mandatory in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad city in Gujarat Indian State, on Monday joined the list of cities which have made it compulsorily for people to wear masks in public places in the wake novel coronavirus spread. Violators will have to pay a penalty ₹1,000 on the first offence and ₹5,000 on all subsequent violations, according to an order by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. "All persons when in a public place within the jurisdiction of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation shall compulsorily wear masks or cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief or other loose cloth tied properly around the mouth and nose," read the order, which will remain in force till further orders. People who violate the rules will be booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if they fail to pay the penalty. "A penalty of ₹1,000 will be levied on the first violation. All subsequent violations will attract a penalty of ₹5000 in each case. Failure to pay penalty will attract prosecution under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897," the order read.Wearing masks have been made mandatory in Gurugram, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Chandigarh. Gujarat has 516 COVID-19 cases, including 44 discharges and 25 deaths. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 9,152 including 7,987 active cases, 856 cured/discharged/migrated and 308 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

 

New Delhi, 13.04.2020

Govt plans to resume some manufacturing amid lockdown

India is planning to restart some manufacturing after April 15, to help offset the economic damage of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, two government sources said, even as it weighs extending the lockdown. The 21-day lockdown of India’s more than 1.3 billion people is due to end on Tuesday, but the government is widely expected to extend it until the end of the month. One of the sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed some ministries to come up with plans to open up some crucial industries as the livelihoods of the poor were being hit. The source said that the government was considering allowing the resumption of some operations, under guidelines that were being drawn up. The sources, who spoke to Reuters on Sunday, asked not to be identified as the plans are still under discussion. Separately, in a letter seen by Reuters, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has recommended restarting some manufacturing in the autos, textiles, defence, electronics and other sectors. The ministry said in the letter, addressed to the Home Ministry, that this could be achieved via reduced shifts with lower staff numbers to ensure social distancing. “We believe some industries could be allowed with reasonable safeguards as long as social distancing norms are maintained,” the second official, from the industries department, said. The Home Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office are likely to take a final call on the recommendations this week, the sources said. The sources also said that other ministries would soon submit plans on allowing partial resumptions in other sectors. India's economy, which was already growing at its slowest pace in six years before the onset of the coronavirus, is set to take a severe hit amid the lockdown, say economists, who warn that unemployment could rise to record levels.

 

New Delhi, 12.04.2020

Banks seek govt guarantee for lending to some sectors

Banks have asked the government to offer guarantees for lending to certain sectors amid the Covid-19 lockdown so that they have greater comfort while sanctioning loans, State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar said on Saturday. Speaking with representatives from the real-estate industry over a video conference, Kumar said this guarantee-based model is ideal in the current circumstances. “The risk capital comes from the government, liquidity comes from RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and the intermediation is done by the public sector banks. So that is a workable model because the risk appetite of the banks is limited,” he said. Whether the government will be in a position to guarantee ending by the private sector or to restrict guarantees to lending by the public sector only is up to them, he added. It will be quite helpful even if the government guarantees only incremental lending to these industries. “I believe there are various suggestions and the government has appointed various empowered groups so all that information will be gathered and analysed and then we can expect some package and an exit plan from the lockdown,” Kumar said. The SBI chief further said that if the need arises, the banking industry may approach the central bank seeking an extension of the three-month moratorium on term loans and working-capital interest. While the RBI may consider extending the moratorium period by a month or two, they will be unlikely to kick the can too far down the road, he added. “Based on the situation the RBI may take a call, but we can’t expect them also to push down the risk too much. If there is a question of over-leveraging or loss prior to Covid period, they will not allow that to be restructured in the garb of Covid,” Kumar said.

 

New Delhi, 12.04.2020

First Covid-19 patient discharged from Tiruvannamalai (Tamil Nadu Indian State) hospital 

A 28-year-old novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient was discharged from the Tiruvannamalai Government Medical College Hospital on Saturday. He had spent 14 days in hospital for treatment and his subsequent blood tests showed ‘negative’, according to Health Department officials. Tiruvannamalai Collector, K.S. Kandasamy gave him with prasadams from Sri Arunchaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai and a few fruits. The doctors, who treated the patient, said it was his routine and strict adherence to the doctor's advice that helped him recover. “This patient from Tiruvannamalai who was admitted here had cooperated fully in the treatment. We are sending him in an ambulance to his residence. He will be under home quarantine for the next few days. There are nine more patients being treated at the hospital and their condition is stable,” said a medical officer from the hospital. Hospital Dean K. Thirumalbabu and Deputy Director (Health Services) R. Meera gave him a warm send off. He is the first Covid-19 patient to be discharged. He was admitted after he was found to be a contact of a patient from Phoenix Mall in Chennai.

 

New Delhi, 12.04.2020

People in Tier-1 cities better aware of pandemic

A joint IIT Hyderabad and IIT Bombay study on the impact of COVID-19 on daily commuters during the transition phase between pre-lockdown and lockdown periods has indicated that people in Tier-1 cities were more aware of the pandemic. The study, useful in understanding the decision-making behaviour of commuters while selecting their preferred mode of transport during a pandemic, required analyses of travel and visit behaviour changes that occurred during the third week of the outbreak in India. The research team comprised Dr. Digvijay S. Pawar and Dr. Pritha Chatterjee, assistant professors, department of civil engineering, IIT Hyderabad; and Professor Nagendra Velaga, department of civil engineering, and Ankit Kumar Yadav, research student, IIT Bombay. The data related to daily commute and visit behaviour was collected through an online questionnaire. Over 1,900 people participated in the study. The researchers received a majority of responses from Tier-1 cities (63.6%) followed by Tier-2 (20.6%) and Tier-3 cities (15.8%). “Given the uncertainties in the minds of the commuters regarding their travel behaviour due to social distancing, it is important for policy makers and local transport authorities to understand the change in travel pattern,” Dr. Pawar said, while emphasising on the importance of the study in shaping relevant policies related to COVID-19. In Tier-1 cities, it was found that around 12% of respondents switched from public to private modes of travel during the third week of COVID-19. This shift was about 9% in Tier-2 cities and around 7% in Tier-3 cities. The researchers said they believe that the lockdown declared by the government has decreased the risk of exposure to the coronavirus due to decrease in crowds in modes of public transport: buses, Metros and trains. Nearly 48% of respondents said they did not travel to work during the third week of March, whereas 28% had the same frequency of travel to work. When enquired about cancellation of trips between cities using major mode of transportation, around 18% respondents said they cancelled their flights, while 20% cancelled train journeys. This indicates that the awareness of COVID-19 is higher in Tier-1 cities followed by Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Elaborating on other studies being planned, Dr. Chatterjee said, “We are also trying to understand the effect of COVID-19 on transportation-related emissions. The data on reduction in vehicle miles travelled and vehicle type will be used to quantitatively model the reduction in traffic related emissions.” The researchers recommended spreading more awareness of the ill effects and spread of COVID-19, especially among the weaker sections of society. The rapidly changing nature of this pandemic is a threat to public health and making human life more challenging, the researchers said.

 

New Delhi, 12.04.2020

Coronavirus | Without lockdown, India would have seen over 8 lakh cases by April 15, says Health Ministry

With India recording a first-time-ever three-digit rise in the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry on Saturday said that had a lockdown not been imposed, the country would have been staring at least 8,00,000 cases by April 15. The Ministry reported over 7,200 cases on Saturday. COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — the technical arm of the Ministry that is overseeing testing and epidemiology — was not involved in preparing this estimate, Lav Agrawal, spokesperson of the Ministry, said at the daily media briefing. He displayed a graph that showed three curves: One a red curve, denoting neither lockdown nor containment in place, that steeply rose to 2,08,544 cases on April 9 (and with a note that it would extend to 8.2 lakh by April 15); a blue, gentler curve that rose to 45,370 by April 11 (and 1.2 lakh cases by April 15), the blue indicating the situation with “containment measures but no lockdown”; and the final green line indicating the 7,447 cases at present. “Lockdown and containment measures are important to fight COVID-19. If we had not taken any measures, we might have had 2 lakh cases at this time (April 11),” Mr. Agrawal added. There were no further details available of how the projected figures were arrived at. Determining the rate of spread of infectious disease is different from extrapolating a given number of cases at an initial point and assuming a particular rate of growth and plugging it into an exponential mathematical equation, experts told The Hindu. “From just this graph alone, it isn’t possible to work backward and figure out the assumption used by the modeller to arrive at the (2,00,000) figures. The curves assume a constant rate of growth, which is not what we’ve seen how the cases increase in India, or anywhere else in the world,” Aritra Das, a medical doctor with a doctorate in epidemiology, who consults with IQVIA. “Estimating the growth in cases requires knowing an R0 [reproduction number that denotes how many an infected person will further infect] and that can’t be derived from what we now have.” A study in February, which was publicised on March 23, remains the only actual modelling study involving ICMR epidemiologists and international experts in the field. That study didn’t estimate numbers but — based on the state of affairs in February — recommended that India should have focussed on finding transmission in the community and quarantining instead of “border control” because of the large uncertainty in detecting asymptomatic travellers harbouring the infection and becoming spreaders. Another ICMR study published this week found that 40% of those with severe respiratory illnesses sampled and detected with COVID-19 could not have their contact history established. The ICMR said 1,71,718 samples were tested, including 16,564 in the last 24 hours. The government said it was containing the wide spread of the disease by establishing containment zones. For instance, in Agra, when the first case was isolated, a 3-kilometre zone was considered a ‘containment zone’ and a 5-kilometre zone was a further buffer zone where the movement was regulated and suspects were traced, quarantined and isolated.

 

New Delhi, 12.04.2020

Lockdown set to be extended with some measures to restart economy

Even as the 21-day lockdown looks set to be extended, the Centre in consultation with states is moving to restart economic activity in a graded manner in what marks a major change of approach in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Spelling out the shift in a video conference with chief ministers on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while the earlier mantra was "jaan hai to jahan hai (if there is life, you can enjoy the world)", the way ahead would be guided by “jaan bhi, jahan bhi (life as well as our world)”. He also noted that CMs had suggested extending the lockdown by two weeks. Right at the outset of the interaction, the PM said the situation had "left us with no option but to extend the lockdown by at least two weeks". The discussions ended with a broad agreement on framing norms for greater public movement while continuing with a focused containment strategy for hotspots. While the lockdown is to be extended till month-end, there will be several measures for a calibrated exit, the guidelines for which are to be spelt out in the next two to three days. Businesses and markets may be allowed to resume in areas that have no infections or a low incidence of the disease. States are likely to designate districts, towns and cities as red, orange and green zones — there might be some zoning within cities and towns as well — to allow differentiated restoration of normal life, with conditions like use of masks and social distancing in public places. The Centre and states are moving to restart economic activity in a graded manner though the current lockdown looks set to be extended beyond April 14. However, areas containing Covid-19 hotspots won’t see any restoration of economic activity as yet. "There will be some experimentation to get the economy going after a three-week lockdown," an official source said. The government is examining a proposal to allow units that can accommodate employees on their campuses to function after authorities are satisfied about adherence to social distancing requirements. Harvesting operations have already been exempted and state governments are being nudged to go to villages to buy the harvested crop directly from farmers so that there is no crowding at mandis. In his interaction with chief ministers on Saturday, PM Narendra Modi emphasised the criticality of the coming 3-4 weeks for determining the impact of steps taken to contain the virus, a government release said. "While calling for the lockdown, I had said that life comes first and emphasised the importance of lockdown and social distancing for saving our citizens. A majority of people appreciated this and discharged their responsibility by staying at home and helped save lives. Now, for a brighter future and a prosperous and healthier India, we need to focus on both ‘jaan’ and ‘jahan’," he said at the meeting which was marked by a strong consensus favouring an aggressive response to the public health emergency. The PM had earlier this week told leaders of political parties that the removal of "stay-at-home" curbs would have to be staggered and, also, that there could not be a single exit plan for the entire county. Modi's discussions with CMs did not see any major divergence in approaches as most CMs agreed that the lockdown had been beneficial while raising demand for economic assistance. In fact, the CMs of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi proactively supported an extended lockdown. Sources said there was no plan at the moment for the PM to make a televised address to the nation. The plans being considered include special norms for industrial townships which will have strict entry and exit norms and internal transport for workers. Such areas will be subject to sanitisation strategies such as use of disinfection tunnels at factories and plants and reworked labour shifts. In areas where markets can be reopened, there might be an alternate day timetable and larger mandis may see restrictions on the number of people who can be present at any point in time. Similarly, states may consider limited restoration of transport, at least within districts and cities, to begin with. Inter-district travel may not be allowed immediately, and inter-state travel and restoration of train services and airlines are not on the table. Central government offices are to begin functioning again from Monday and there are suggestions to restart public services by greater use of e-tokens and hour-wise appointments that will reduce crowding in banks and other such utilities like municipal and administrative offices. The guidelines for the farm sector are already in place and more instructions on supply chain movement can be expected. There will be relaxations for flood control activities too. During the interaction with chief ministers, the PM said the combined effort of the Centre and states had helped reduce the impact of Covid-19 but the situation required constant vigilant. According to a release, Modi assured that India had adequate supplies of essential medicines and said measures were being taken to ensure availability of protective gear and critical equipment. He warned against black marketing and hoarding. “Condemning and expressing distress at the instances of attacks on the doctors and medical staff, and at incidents of misbehaviour with students from north-east and Kashmir, the PM said such cases need to be dealt with firmly,” the release said.

 

New Delhi, 11.04.2020

Indian Government okays INR 15,000 crore (EUR 1.80 Billion) package to boost health infrastructure

The Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package INR 15,000 crore (EUR 1.80 Billion) has been approved by the Central government of India on 08.04.2020 to build on health infrastructure till March 2024. The package will be given to state governments and Union Territories (UT) in three phases — January 2020 to June 2020, July 2020 to March 2021 and from April 2021 to March 2024. This fund would be divided on the basis of the number of positive cases and the size of the state and the UT. State governments would be allowed to use the money to develop Covid-19 hospitals. They would also be allowed to spend on buying personal protective equipment, setting up of laboratories, procurement of essential medical supplies, medicines and consumables for Covid-19 patients. Of the 15,000 crore, the Centre would release 7,774 crore (EUR 0.93 Billion)  for immediate use till June 2020. The remaining 7,226 crore (EUR 0.87 Billion) would be used till 2024 for medium-term support.

 

New Delhi, 10.04.2020

India partially eases restrictions on export of anti-malarial drug

India has partially eased restrictions on export of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol, cited by some as key to the fight against the corona virus disease (COVID-19) to fulfil existing orders and to meet the needs of neighbouring countries. India initially banned exports of hydroxychloroquine on March 25 to ensure adequate domestic suppliers. Rules were tightened on April 4 by barring exports from special economic zones and export-oriented units. The external affairs ministry said the two drugs will be supplied in appropriate quantities to all neighbouring countries dependents on India’s capabilities

 

New Delhi, 10.04.2020

Zydus Cadila boosts key Covid drug Hydroxychloroquine production at 10 times

Zydus Cadila one of the two largest manufacturers of key Covid drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), has ramped up its production by nearly 10X to 30 metric tonnes (150 Million tablets of 200mg) per month in view of the huge spike in demand expected due to rising cases of Covid-19. The company with over Rs 13,000-crore(1.58 Euro Billion) revenue is helping the government to build a stockpile of 10 crore (100 Million) dosages of the drug, Zydus group chairman Pankaj Patel said

 

New Delhi, 10.04.2020

Indian Government issue licences to import antibody kits, may buy more

The race to supply antibody test kits to the Indian government has picked up, as the country puts out the first order to procure 5 lakh of these in an attempt to expand its testing capacity. At least seven Chinese companies received import licences from the Drug Controller General of India and are looking to supply 20 lakh to 1 crore of these kits to India.Rapid antibody test kits have been recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to carry out screening in areas where the spread of Covid-19 is high. Antibody or serological tests are done to determine whether an individual has developed resistance to a virus. In the Indian context, this has been done to determine whether a person was Covid-19 positive but remained asymptomatic.In the next few weeks the Indian government is expected to spend Rs 100 crore in buying these kits

 

New Delhi, 10.04.2020

Government of india frees exports of all Apis, formulation except paracetamol 

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) amended the export policy for APIs such as vitamins B1, B6 and B12, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone and chloramphenicol, among others to ‘free’ from ‘restricted’ in a notification dated April 6,2020. DGFT had restricted the exports of 26 bulk drugs and their formulations on March 3, 2020 to ensure there is no shortage of drugs in India due to the lockdown in China’s Hubei’s province, a major source for these raw materials that has also been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. The government had restricted the exports of paracetamol and vitamins B1, B6 and B12, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone, chloramphenicol, erythromycin salts, neomycin, clindamycin salts and ornidazole amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

 

New Delhi, 10.04.2020

COVIS-19: Kia Motors India contributes Indian Rupees 2 crore (250.000 Euro)

Kia Motors India on Tuesday announced it is contributing Indian Rupees 2 crore (250,000 Euro) to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Kia Motors India Managing Director Kookhyun Shim met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and handed over the cheque in Andhra Pradesh’s Tadepally

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Covid-19 impact: Indian economy likely to grow 2% in FY21, says Icra

Icra Ratings on Tuesday sharply cut the country's GDP forecast amid the Covid-19 crisis and expects the economy to grow at just 2 per cent in the current fiscal. It said the nationwide lockdown announced to contain the coronavirus outbreak has impacted industries and their operations have come to a standstill. "The Indian economy is likely to witness a sharp contraction of 4.5 per cent (de-growth) during Q4 FY20 and is expected to recover gradually, to post a GDP growth of just 2 per cent in FY21," the rating agency said. It said the concerns on account of Covid-19 have morphed from the impact of imports from China on domestic supply chains, into a domestic and external demand shock, with social distancing and lockdowns leading to production shutdowns and job losses in some sectors.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Pharma majors ramp up capacity to meet demand in country and abroad

India’s decision to reverse the April 4 export ban on hydroxychloroquine within 74 hours is based on an assessment that pharma companies Ipca Laboratories and Zydus Cadia can ramp up capacity to cater to the increased domestic as well as overseas demand. On Tuesday, India said it would license hydroxychloroquine, primarily an anti-malarial drug also used for auto-immune diseases, and pain-killer paracetamol, allowing their export to some countries. The demand for hydroxychloroquine had shot up globally with several countries pushing India — among the top suppliers of the drug globally — for the drug’s use in their fight against COVID-19. While the demand position of these drugs would be “continuously monitored”, the Ministry of External Affairs Tuesday said the stock position could allow Indian companies to meet the export commitments already made. Companies producing the drug said it was possible to meet the demand.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Govt forms clinical research team for better insight into Covid-19 pandemic

India is putting in place a hospital-based clinical research collaborative, the ‘India Covid-19 Clinical Research Collaborative Network’, to enhance the clinical understanding of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country to develop India specific treatment protocols, and push research and development in the field of drug development for the viral infection. The country’s National Task Force on Covid-19, which is a group of technical experts reviewing important decisions regarding Covid-19, has recommended the establishment of the collaborative that would need to be coordinated by the country’s apex biomedical research organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). “The goal of this network is to develop specific clinical management protocols and further research and development for therapeutics. For this purpose, a central database of clinical and laboratory parameters of hospitalized Covid-19 cases is being created,” read a statement from the ICMR. All hospitals currently admitting in isolation wards, and treating, Covid-19 patients are being invited to become partners in the network. The research regulator has made public a link- https://forms.gle/LHByZkR41UPHqX9FA- taking them to a registration forms that must be filled byhospitals interested in becoming a part of the research network. “This is clinical research mostly using data at the hospital level, involving those who are directly dealing with patient management to know what kind of cases are coming to hospitals, with what symptoms. What is working in terms of treatment and what is not, among other things,” said a senior scientist at the ICMR. According to the data available so far, close to 80% Covid-19 positive cases will develop mild symptoms, about 15% will develop severe symptoms, such as breathing difficulty, requiring hospitalisation, and about 5% will be critical enough to develop serious pneumonia, and need oxygen support or ventilator support. “There is a lot we know so far and a lot more that needs to be known further. The research will keep on evolving, and we will get to know new things about the virus and disease pattern with every new research coming out on Covid-19. It will be an ongoing process,” the scientist said.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

3.5 lakh trucks carrying Rs 35,000 crore goods stranded on roads

An estimated 3.5 lakh inter-state trucks carrying goods worth over Rs 35,000 crore are stranded on roads, outside factories and godowns, according to transporters. The goods range from cars and SUVs to two-wheelers and white goods such as ACs, refrigerators, washing machines, electrical items and industrial raw material such as chemicals, steel and cement.
Truckers and transporters TOI spoke to said the goods are at risk of damage and even pilferage as drivers and helpers have run away in many cases due to the absence of food, money or proper sanitation. Also, in most of the cases, there are no helpers and other support staff to unload the stocks once they have reached their destination, be it factories or dealerships and godowns. “It is a painful situation for truckers and goods worth thousands of crores are literally lying on roads. Something should be done immediately to help us out,” Kultaran Singh Atwal, president of All-India Motor Transport Corporation said.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Truckers seek bailout package from government

AIMTC is the biggest trucking association in the country and claims that its members control nearly 1 crore small, big and specialised trucks. Atwal said that while trucks carrying essentials such as food, medicines and sanitation products are being allowed, the government should also ensure the movement of other goods to the designated destinations so that the system can be unclogged and the commodities transported.“We are still facing curbs. They should help lift the restrictions so that trucks can move. It is a pitiable position with many trucks stranded at state borders or other check points. Many trucks are idling at parkings or other places.” Many truckers are also complaining that drivers and helpers are being left to fend for themselves. “At many places, there is no food, medicines, or even clean toilets. Also, sanitisers and masks are not there, and this has prompted many truckers to leave the vehicles and head back home.” Vipul Nanda, president of car carriers’ association, said nearly 1,500 large customised container trucks — carrying around 10,000 cars and SUVs of various brands — are also stranded on the roads, or outside factories and godowns. A large carrier truck has the capacity to carry around seven vehicles, and these generally criss-cross across the length and breadth of the country. Most of these trips originate from automobile manufacturing hubs such as in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt, the Pune region, the Gujarat auto cluster, or the area around Chennai. “Please remember that’s this is an asset-heavy industry, and thus there are heavy debts too that transporters carry. If business remains paralysed, there are high chances of many transporters getting bankrupt,” Nanda said. Pradeep Singal, chairman of All-India Transporters’ Welfare Association, said that there are cases where the movement of many trucks has been restricted even when the government has permitted them to pass through. “In many instances, the message is yet to reach the ground.” The truckers are seeking wide-ranging support from the government as a bailout package. “Please give an EMI break for at least six months to us, and also extend our national movement permits by same period. There should be half-year relief in payment of statutory road tax and goods tax payments.”

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

More cities and states make masks in public compulsory

Delhi, Mumbai, and the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha on Wednesday made the wearing of face masks mandatory for people stepping out of their homes. In the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, the mandatory masks rule announced Wednesday was limited to all officers, staff and visitors to the Civil Secretariat, while in the UT of Ladakh it applied to the general public as well as all government officials, including personnel of the armed forces, and violation was made a punishable offence

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Coronavirus update: New Rs 75,000 crore fund to boost small industry in post-Covid world

The government may set up a fund with a corpus of about ₹50,000 crore to ₹75,000 crore to revive industries, particularly labour-intensive small and medium units, as part of an economic stimulus package currently under consideration to revive growth in the post-covid-19 era, two officials aware of the plan said. The corpus, which is yet to be finalised, is expected to be partly funded by a cess proposed to be levied on certain commodities such as fuels, and partly from budgetary support, the officials said, requesting anonymity. “The purpose of the fund is to provide low-cost money to industrial units, particularly micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs), for their immediate working capital requirements so that they can expeditiously complete pending orders and receive payments. This will ensure synchronised movement of the wheels of the economy,” one of the officials said

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

SC makes coronavirus testing free of cost, directs private hospitals not to charge fee for testing

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to issue appropriate orders immediately for free of cost testing for coronavirus even in private hospitals and laboratories, saying the current charges-though capped at Rs 4,500— will be beyond the reach of the poor. The court said it would examine later whether the private entities, carrying out the tests free of cost, would be entitled to reimbursement. The apex court said private hospitals too have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.
"We find prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity permitting private labs to charge Rs 4500 for screening and confirmation test of Covid-19 may not be within the means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the Covid-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs 4500," the court said. "The private hospitals, including laboratories, have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. We thus are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private labs to conduct free of cost Covid-19 test. The question as to whether the private laboratories carrying free of cost Covid-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on. We further are of the view that tests relating to Covid-19 must be carried out in NABL- accredited labs or any agencies approved by ICMR," a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat said. The court also passed a slew of directions to the Centre and states to ensure safety and security of doctors and medical staff saying they are the warriors against coronavirus and the first line of defence of the country to combat the pandemic. The court expressed concern over incidents of attack and harassment of medical staff involved in treating Covid-19 patients and said all citizens have to act in a responsible manner to extend a helping hand to the government and medical staff to perform their duties to contain and combat the deadly virus. The court directed the Centre and states "to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, including sterile medical/Nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators (i.e. N-95 Respirator Mask or Triple Layer Medical Mask or equivalent), shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns to all health workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering from COVID-19 in India, in metro cities, tier-2 and tier-3 cities". “The Centre, states/Union Territories and respective police authorities are directed to provide the necessary security to the doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or patients suspected of Covid-19 or those quarantined are housed," it said and directed the states to take necessary action against those who obstruct and commit any offence against the medical staff. It also asked the government to explore alternative modes of production of protective clothing (masks, suits, caps, gloves etc.) and permitting movement of raw materials. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre, said that around 15,000 tests are being done on daily basis by over 100 laboratories but private labs have also been asked to do the testing in view of the spread of the virus across the country. He also submitted that he would seek instructions from the Centre on feasibility of making testing free of costs for public in private labs. Mehta assured the court that government and police are committed to protect the interest of doctors and all necessary action will be taken to protect them. He said doctors and all other people who are fighting the pandemic will be provided all necessary protective equipment.

 

New Dekhi, 09.04.2020

COVID-19 causes unemployment rate to spike

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private agency, India’s unemployment rate spiked to over ~23% as of 5 April vs the 6-8% range pre-COVID-19. The unemployment rate in rural India rose to ~20%, and to ~31% in urban India, indicating that while the outbreak started off as an urban phenomenon, the economic impact is also being felt in rural areas. Labour force participation rate – the number of employed and seeking employment as a percentage of the working age population – dipped sharply to ~36% from its pre- COVID-19 trend range of 42-43%. The deteriorating labour statistics is a direct consequence of the COVID-19-led national lockdown. It matches anecdotal evidence in the past few weeks of a mass exodus of labourers, particularly in Northern India from urban centres to their rural hometowns.

 

New Dekhi, 09.04.2020

Over 15%-20% export orders cancelled

Media reports suggest that Covid-19 has led to 15-20% of export orders being cancelled and a major amount of funds being locked up, owing to non-payment of dues by large buyers from the US, Europe and West Asia, prompting exporters to seek a bailout from the government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi “highlighted” the impact on exports during a meeting of the council of Ministers. He asked Ministers to be ready with a plan to boost exports, with focus on new markets and sectors. But exporters fear that a revival may not be possible in the next few months, with the most optimistic expectation being some signs of improvement in demand towards the end of June.

  

New Dekhi, 09.04.2020

India lifts restrictions on exports of 24 drugs amid coronavirus; allows limited exports of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol

India has lifted restrictions on the export of 24 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations made from them. India had restricted the exports of 26 APIs and formulations on March 3.  The 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients and formulations accounted for 10% of all Indian pharmaceutical exports and includes several antibiotics, such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone and Vitamin B1, 6 and 12. However, paracetamol and its formulations were not included in the list of drugs freed up for export. India has also placed restrictions on the export of most diagnostic testing kits. And in recent weeks it had also banned the export of ventilators, masks and other protective gear needed by both patients and medical staff. Meanwhile, following pressure by several countries, and the US President Donald Trump threatening with retaliatory measures, India, on 7 April, decided to temporarily licence paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to neighbouring countries and some countries who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. The approvals to export appear to be on a case by case basis and there have not been any formal notification issued so far. Though not officially approved for such use, there is a suggestion that HCQ is effective in the treatment of some symptoms of COVID-19. India, the largest producer of HCQ, initially banned exports of the drug on March 25, albeit with some exceptions, to ensure adequate domestic supplies. Rules were further tightened on April 4, by removing the exceptions. In a statement on 7 April, Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation. "This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries. In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities," he said.

 

New Dekhi, 09.04.2020

SAARC decides to work on larger framework for boosting intra-region trade

Trade officials of the SAARC countries, except Pakistan, on Wednesday held a video conference, deliberating on creating a larger framework of trade facilitation to offset adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the region. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that new ways and means should be identified to "sustain and expand" the intra-regional trade until the normal trade channels are fully restored. At an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that the member nations of the bloc should come together to jointly fight against the pandemic.  The officials discussed specific issues like facilitation of trade through pragmatic solutions in view of the pandemic. The MEA said the need to maintain essential trade within region was viewed as an important thrust area, adding the officials deliberated on having larger framework of trade facilitation in the region.  It said the pragmatic solutions examined at the conference also included acceptance of scanned copies of documents for clearance of imports by customs and release of payments by banks and resolving issues being faced for exports and imports at land customs stations.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2010

Jobless rate soars to 23.4% amid Covid-19 lockdown

Early estimates of jobs data indicate that the coronavirus effect may have left a devastating impact on the economy, sending urban unemployment rate soaring to 30.9% . Overall unemployment rose to 23.4%. The figures, based on the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s weekly tracker survey, have held steady for two weeks now. The latest data for the week ended 5 April was released on Monday evening. CMIE’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to the current 23%. Based on a rough calculation, about 50 million people might have lost jobs in just two weeks of the lockdown, said Pronab Sen, a former chief statistician of India. “Since some may have just been sent home for now, the actual scope of unemployment may be even higher and may show up a little later,” he added. India does not have reliable, official high-frequency data on jobs. While CMIE’s jobs data has been the centre of a political slugfest in the past, with government officials repeatedly questioning the survey’s methodology, Sen said that it doesn’t matter now because what we are interested in is “capturing change”. “This (the unemployment number) is also somewhat expected,” said Himanshu, associate professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Rampant job losses have gripped many other economies, too, in the face of the pandemic. Roughly 10 million US workers filed unemployment claims in the past fortnight, for instance.


New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Covid-19: Govt looks at ways to restart business ops post lockdown

The government is working on getting business activity going again, if only in parts, after the lockdown is relaxed, if only in part, even as companies are itching to get going again , and hoping for a stimulus package. Although the government has not yet taken a final decision on either a complete or partial end to the lockdown, ministries have started preparing for the eventuality after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked them to prepare a list of 10 major decisions and 10 priority areas of focus once the lockdown ends, government officials said. According to officials, a final decision on this matter is expected next week after thorough assessment of the situation on the ground, and elaborate consultations with stakeholders, including state governments.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Coronavirus India: Total case count crosses 5,000, death toll 149

According to Union Health Ministry's latest update, the death toll from Covid-19 in India has risen to 149. The total number of cases now stands at 5,194. As of today, the cured/dischaged coronavirus patients in the country number 402. The rise in numbers comes amid reports that the Centre could be looking at extending the India-wide lockdown beyond April 14 based on suggestions from many state governments and health experts.

 

New Delhi, 09.04.2020

Coronavirus | Special session of the U.N. Security Council likely on April 9

India is gearing for diplomatic activities as the U.N. Security Council appears set for a special session over the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources here indicated that South Block is tracking reports that a special closed session of the UNSC is to be held as early as on April 9 when all 15 members of the highest U.N. body are likely to discuss the situation on the intensifying crisis that has disrupted life and economy in India as well.

 

New Delhi, 09.08.2020

Donald Trump reverses course, supports India’s position on hydroxychloroquine

US President Donald Trump today changed course and supported the Narendra Modi government stand on hydroxychloroquine and ended up praising India’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.In an interview to Fox News, Trump said: “ I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi, a lot of it comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it? He was great. He was really good. You know they put a stop because they wanted it for India. But there is a lot of good things coming from that. Lot of people looking at it and saying, you know I don’t hear bad stories, I hear good stories. And I don’t hear anything where it was causing death. So it is not something like….You know we are doing vaccines. Johnson and Johnson, they need to test that. It seems malaria affected counties are unaffected where it is common.” While President Trump had talked about possible retaliation against India on Monday on hydroxychloroquine, fact is that India had already informed the State Department about the change in drug policy much earlier. “We don’t want to be bracketed with China when the world is facing the pandemic. We have commitments and responsibility to countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and all those who are dependent on Indian drugs,” said a senior government official.

 

Mumbai, 07.04.2020

GOVT FREES EXPORTS OF ALL APIS, FORMULATIONS EXCEPT PARACETAMOL

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) amended the export policy for APIs such as vitamins B1, B6 and B12, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone and chloramphenicol, among others to ‘free’ from ‘restricted’ in a notification dated April 6. DGFT had restricted the exports of 26 bulk drugs and their formulations on March 3.India on Monday removed the export restrictions on 24 active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and formulations, a month after imposing them in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the outbound shipments of paracetamol and its formulations continue to remain restricted or need a license from the government to get exported.The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) amended the export policy for APIs such as vitamins B1, B6 and B12, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone and chloramphenicol, among others to ‘free’ from ‘restricted’ in a notification dated April 6.DGFT had restricted the exports of 26 bulk drugs and their formulations on March 3 to ensure there is no shortage of drugs in India due to the lockdown in China’s Hubei’s province, a major source for these raw materials that has also been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.The government had restricted the exports of paracetamol and vitamins B1, B6 and B12, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone, chloramphenicol, erythromycin salts, neomycin, clindamycin salts and ornidazole amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.Read more at:https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/govt-frees-exports-of-all-apis-formulations-except-paracetamol/articleshow/75017469.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

 

Mumbai, 06.04.2020

NEW CBIC CIRCULAR: IMPORT, EXPORT OF GOODS WITHOUT FURNISHING bonds to Customs authorities allowed

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on Friday allowed businesses to import and export goods without furnishing bonds to the customs authorities till the end of the month, a move aimed at facilitating trade during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a circular, the CBIC said importers and exporters will have to furnish an undertaking to the Customs authorities till April 30 in lieu of the bonds.The apex indirect tax body said it has received representation from field formations about difficulty being faced by importers and exporters during the ongoing lockdown in obtaining notarised stamp papers for furnishing bonds required by Customs in certain situations during the assessment and clearance of goods.In order to expedite Customs clearance of goods and for maintaining balance between Customs control and facilitation of legitimate trade, the CBIC said it has approved relaxation of the requirement to submit bonds.“While the lockdown is presently in force till April 14, 2020, considering that the importer/ exporter may find it difficult to comply with requirement of furnishing bond for some more time thereafter till the situation normalises, the said relaxation shall be available up to April 30, 2020,” the CBICThe Board will, however, review the relaxation at the end of the lockdown period.“In the period up to April 30, 2020, Customs field formations may accept request for submission of an undertaking from the importer/exporter in lieu of a bond,” the CBIC said.The Importers and exporters who would be allowed this facility include public sector undertakings, manufacturer importer, authorised economic operators and all importers availing customs warehouse facility.“Importers /exporters availing this facility shall ensure that the undertaking furnished in lieu of bond is duly replaced with a proper bond before May 7,” the CBIC said.https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/new-cbic-circular-import-export-of-goods-without-furnishing-bonds-to-customs-authorities-allowed/1918435/

 

Mumbai, 06.04.2020

BHARAT BIOTECH IN TIE-UP TO DEVELOP A COVID VACCINE

Bharat Biotech said on Friday that it has partnered with the University of Wisconsin Madison and US-based company FluGen to develop a vaccine, Coro-Flu, against Covid-19. Raches Ella, head of business development at Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, said the company will manufacture the vaccine, conduct clinical trials and prepare to produce almost 300 million doses of vaccine for global distribution. “Under the collaboration agreement, FluGen will transfer its existing manufacturing processes to Bharat Biotech to enable the company to scale up production and produce the vaccine for clinical trials,” said Ella.Bharat Biotech has so far commercialised 16 vaccines, including a vaccine developed against the H1N1flu that caused the 2009 pandemic, it said. The company said CoroFlu will build on the backbone of FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR. Based on an invention by UW–Madison virologists and FluGen co-founders Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Gabriele Neumann, M2SR is a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu. “Kawaoka’s lab will insert gene sequences from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease Covid-19, into M2SR so that the new vaccine will also induce immunity against the coronavirus,” said Ella.Refinement of the CoroFlu vaccine concept and testing in laboratory animal models at UW-Madison is expected to take three to six months. Bharat Biotech will begin to scale up production for safety and efficacy testing in humans. CoroFlu could be in human clinical trials by the fall of 2020, said the company. Four Phase I and Phase II clinical trials have shown the M2SR flu vaccine to be safe and well tolerated, it said. This safety profile, M2SR’s ability to induce a strong immune response, make it an attractive option for developing CoroFlu as an effective vaccine, it said.

 

Mumbai, 06.04.2020

BLANKET BAN ON EXPORT OF ANTI-MALARIAL DRUG HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE

Blanket ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, government withdraws exemptions.However, the directorate amended the policy on Saturday and withdrew these exemptions, saying that the export of Hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from Hydroxychloroquine is no longer allowed from SEZs/EOUs or against Advance Authorisation or against full advance payment.The government on Saturday imposed a blanket ban on the export anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and its formulations, days after it culled out exceptions for some categories.“The export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from hydroxychloroquine, therefore, shall remain prohibited, without any exception,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.DGFT had on March 25, allowed on humanitarian grounds on a case-to-case basis on the Ministry of External Affairs' recommendation, from special economic zones/export oriented units and in cases where the outbound shipment is made to fulfil export obligation under any advance authorisation license issued on or before that date.

 

Mumbai, 06.04.2020

COVID-19: GOVERNMENT RESTRICTS EXPORT OF DIAGNOSTIC KITS

The government on Saturday restricted the exports of diagnostic kits amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak.“The export of diagnostic kits (diagnostic or laboratory reagents on a backing, preparation diagnostic or laboratory reagents)... is restricted with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.Earlier, the exports of these products were allowed without any restrictions. Products under the restricted category mean that an exporter now requires a licence from the DGFT for outbound shipments.The government has already prohibited the export of all kinds of artificial respiratory apparatus, oxygen therapy apparatus and breathing devices, and sanitisers, masks, ventilators and textile raw materials for masks and coveralls, and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and formulations.

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

RESERVE BANK OF INDIA RAISES SHORT-TERM BORROWING LIMIT FOR STATES AND UTS BY 30%

The Reserve Bank of India has come up with another round of measures to cushion the impact of the Covid-19-induced shutdown with a focus on the finances of the states, some of which have announced staggered payment of salaries. States’ short-term borrowing limits have been increased by as much as 30% as they face pressure on revenues with economic activity coming to a halt and the transfers from the Central government also getting crushed due to lower Goods and Services Tax collection. It has been decided to increase WMA (ways and means advances) limit by 30% from the existing limit for all states/UTs (Union territories) to enable the state governments to tide over the situation arising from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The revised limits came into force on April 1, 2020 and will be valid till September 30, 2020. The RBI has been easing norms and pumping in liquidity in the past few weeks as companies reel under the impact of the national lockdown. It came up with a blanket moratorium option for both corporate and retail borrowers. To reduce the pain inflicted by the moratorium, the central bank has provided some relief to banks which were to meet strict capital norms that required that they raise their capital adequacy, known as the Countercyclical Capital Buffer (CCyB).

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

INDIA’S CORE SECTOR GREW 5.5% IN FEBRUARY, HIGHEST IN 11 MONTHS

Growth in refinery products, electricity and coal production pulled up India’s core sector growth in February 2020 (year-on-year) to an 11-month high of 5.5 per cent. Cement and fertilisers, too, posted an increase in production during the month but crude oil, natural gas and cement output declined, according to data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry. The eight core industries (Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement, Electricity) comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The cumulative growth in the core sector during April to February 2019-20 was 1 percent. According to economists, the outlook, however, doesn’t seem very bright for March 2020, as the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has disrupted the production process in the country and globally.

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

G20 MEET: INDIA BATS FOR AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO MEDICINES, EASIER MOVEMENT OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

India made a case for building a global framework to enhance affordable access to medicines for fighting pandemics and facilitating easier movement of health professionals across national borders, at a meeting of the trade ministers of G20 nations on 30th MArch 2020. “In his intervention, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal stressed on the need to uphold multilateral commitments and improve upon their effectiveness to meet current challenges,” said an official release. Trade and investment ministers of the G20 group — which includes India, the US, the EU, China, Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and the UK — have endorsed the need to ensure continued flow of vital medical supplies and equipment, critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services across borders to meet the challenges thrown by the fast-spreading Covid-19 virus

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS EXPORT NORMS TO EU TIGHTENED BY INDIA

The government has tightened the export norms for certain animal by-products such as bone and bone products and gelatine to the European Union. The exports of these products were free earlier but now they require a Shipment Clearance Certificate and after the shipment is made, the exporter will also have to provide a “Health Certificate” consignment wise to the buyer, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification on Tuesday. The export of bone and bone products, including Ossein intended to be used for human consumption, and edible grade gelatine were free till now. DGFT said that export is allowed freely but export to European Union is allowed subject to certain conditions such as a Shipment Clearance Certificate to be issued consignment-wise by the Chemical and Allied Export Promotion Council (CAPEXIL). “After the shipment is made, the exporter shall also provide a “Health Certificate” consignment- wise to the buyer having details of the product with HS code, packaging, its origin, destination, vessel name, date of departure, health requirement. This certificate is issued by Export Inspection Council,” DGFT said in the notification. As per an official, the EU had been demanding such tighter norms for exports for quite some time and added that the development is not linked to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

INDIA ASKS FTA PARTNERS TO TEMPORARILY ALLOW IMPORTS WITHOUT CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN

India has asked the countries, with which it has free trade agreements (FTAs), to allow imports of goods without certificate of origin for the time being as the domestic authorities are currently not issuing the document on account of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The government has allowed issuing certificates of origin-retrospectively to eligible exports under various India’s trade agreements with other countries as offices temporarily closed and unable to issue the certificate of origin. India would also stand ready to honour its preferential trade agreement imports subject to the respective governments also making a formal request or putting up a notice in this regard. The relaxation comes in the wake of a lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In view of these exceptional circumstances, the certificates would be issued retrospectively by the concerned Indian agencies after they open their offices.

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

INDIAN GOVERNMENT MAY ABOLISH IMPORT DUTY ON VENTILATORS, MASKS

The Government of India may do away with import duty on various medical devices and gear, including ventilators, protective masks and Personal Protection Equipments as part of its fight against coronavirus. There have been recommendations from ministries to also remove Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on these Items, and a final call on this will have to be taken by the GST Council. A proposal to do away with custom duty and IGST on around 15 products categories is being considered by the revenue department officials. Apart from the devices and other products needed by the medical staff, some raw material used for making masks and parts of garments and accessories are also on the wishlist that has been moved by the commerce department. On most of the products, duty levied is 10-25%, along with IGST of 12%

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

INDIAN GOVERNMENT ENDS FY20 DIVESTMENT PROGRAMME

The Government of India ended the divestment programme for 2019-20 with proceeds of Rs 50,298.6 crore (6.01 billion Euro), a shortfall of Rs 14,701 crore (1.7 billion Euros), compared with the Revised Estimates of Rs 65,000 crore (7.7 billion Euro). The Centre’s divestment plans for February and March, which included a number of offers-for-sales, an initial public offering (IPO) and a Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) sale, were hit first by the markets reacting to economic slowdown, and then to the Covid-19 pandemic

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

GLOBAL INVITATION (THROUGH E-BIDDING ONLY) FOR SELECTION OF TRANSMISSION SERVICE PROVIDER FOR SEVEN (7) INTER-STATE TRANSMISSION PROJECTS

REC Transmission Projects Company Limited (RECTPCL), New Delhi, India (a wholly owned subsidiary of REC Ltd., a Navratna Central Public Sector Undertaking) invites proposal for setting up of seven (7) transmission projects on Build, Own, Operate & Maintain basis following single stage two envelope process of “Request for Proposal (RFP)”. For further information, Interested bidder may refer to the Request for Proposal (RFP) notifications and RFP documents which are available on RECTPCL website www.recindia.nic.in and www.rectpcl.in Contact details for further information or clarification (if any) : Chief Executive Officer, REC Transmission Projects Company Ltd., Core-4, Scope Complex, 7+ 7, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003, India Tel.011-47964796 Fax.011-47964738 E-Mail: contactus@rectpcl.in; bgupta@recl.nic.in

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

INDIA’S BUDGET UNDER STRAIN ON DAY 01 OF NEW FISCAL YEAR

India kicks off its new fiscal year with revenues under severe strain. A prolonged slowdown in the economy depressed taxes in the financial year that ended March 31. As India now conducts the world’s biggest lockdown, budget pressures are set to worsen. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already outlined a virus relief package of USD 22.5 billion (approx. Euro 20.58 billion) and may be planning more support. This could push up the government fiscal deficit target to as high as 6.5% of GDP in the current year, according to Fitch solutions, compared with the government target of 3.5%. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposing a lockdown on India’s 1.3 billion people from March 25, non-essential consumption and production in the economy is now at a standstill.

 

New Delhi, 06.04.2020

GOVERNMENT EXTENDS FOREIGN TRADE POLICY BY ONE YEAR

The government on Tuesday extended the existing foreign trade policy for one year till March 2021 amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and the lockdown to contain its spread.“The existing foreign trade policy 2015-20 which is valid up to March 31 this year is extended up to March 31, 2021,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.As per the notification, the validity of various import-linked export schemes such as Duty Free Import Authorisation (DFIA) and Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) have been extended by one year.Under EPCG, exporters can import certain amount of capital goods at zero duty for upgrading technology related with exports while DFIA allows them to import certain goods like sugar at zero duty.The government also extended the exemptions to imports against Advance Authorisations for physical exports from Integrated Tax and Compensation Cess upto March 31, 2021. Advance authorisation is issued to allow duty free import of inputs, which is physically incorporated in export product. The same exemption has been given to imports from bonded warehouse in domestic tariff area or from international exhibition held in India.However, the government will take a call later on continuing the Service Exports from India Scheme for services rendered after April 1.Exports from India touched $292.9 billion in the 11 months to February 2020, while imports were $436.03 billion.https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/government-extends-foreign-trade-policy-by-one-year/articleshow/74919920.cms

 

Mumbai, 06.04.2020

FSSAI DECLARES IMPORT CLEARANCE OF FOOD ITEMS, TESTING AT NOTIFIED LABS as essential services

Food regulator FSSAI on Tuesday declared import clearance of food items and testing at notified labs as essential services during the lockdown period. "The Food Safety & Standards Authority (FSSAI) has classified the import clearance of food items and functioning of notified food testing laboratories (including National Food Labs) under Essential Services during the COVID-19," it said in a statement.All personnel who are assigned the charge of these essential services are required to be available in office on all working days from Monday to Friday between 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM in order to facilitate the trade as well as ensure smoother operation of related services across the country.The FSSAI has its Offices at six locations namely Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin and Tuticorinand.These offices are fully operational for scrutiny of applications, visual inspection and sampling for import clearance to ensure expeditious processing of applications and timely issuance of NOC."FSSAI is keeping a close watch on the situation. It will continue to assist food importers as well as  ensure regular supervision and testing of food items and will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of food products," the statement said.

New Delhi, 02 aprile 2020

Reserve Bank of India raises short-term borrowing limit for states and UTs by 30%

The Reserve Bank of India has come up with another round of measures to cushion the impact of the Covid-19-induced shutdown with a focus on the finances of the states, some of which have announced staggered payment of salaries. States’ short-term borrowing limits have been increased by as much as 30% as they face pressure on revenues with economic activity coming to a halt and the transfers from the Central government also getting crushed due to lower Goods and Services Tax collection.  It has been decided to increase WMA (ways and means advances) limit by 30% from the existing limit for all states/UTs (Union territories) to enable the state governments to tide over the situation arising from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The revised limits came into force on April 1, 2020 and will be valid till September 30, 2020. The RBI has been easing norms and pumping in liquidity in the past few weeks as companies reel under the impact of the national lockdown. It came up with a blanket moratorium option for both corporate and retail borrowers. To reduce the pain inflicted by the moratorium, the central bank has provided some relief to banks which were to meet strict capital norms that required that they raise their capital adequacy, known as the Countercyclical Capital Buffer (CCyB).

 

New Delhi, 01 aprile 2020

India’s Core sector grew 5.5% in February, highest in 11 months

Growth in refinery products, electricity and coal production pulled up India’s core sector growth in February 2020 (year-on-year) to an 11-month high of 5.5 per cent. Cement and fertilisers, too, posted an increase in production during the month but crude oil, natural gas and cement output declined, according to data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry. The eight core industries (Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement, Electricity) comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The cumulative growth in the core sector during April to February 2019-20 was 1 percent.According to economists, the outlook, however, doesn’t seem very bright for March 2020, as the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has disrupted the production process in the country and globally.

 

Goa, 02 aprile 2020

L’Ufficio ICE di Mumbai ha fornito il suo supporto al Consolato d'Italia a Mumbai per l’organizzazione di secondo volo per il rimpatrio in Italia di connazionali che erano presenti in India.

 

New Delhi, 01 aprile 2020 

India’s budget under strain on Day 01 of new Fiscal year

India kicks off its new fiscal year with revenues under severe strain. A prolonged slowdown in the economy depressed taxes in the financial year that ended March 31. As India now conducts the world’s biggest lockdown, budget pressures are set to worsen. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already outlined a virus relief package of USD 22.5 billion (approx. Euro 20.58 billion) and may be planning more support. This could push up the government fiscal deficit target to as high as 6.5% of GDP in the current year, according to Fitch solutions, compared with the government target of 3.5%. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposing a lockdown on India’s 1.3 billion people from March 25, non-essential consumption and production in the economy is now at a standstill.

 

New Delhi, 01 aprile 2020

Indian Government extends foreign trade policy by one year

The government of India on Tuesday (31.03.2020) extended the existing foreign trade policy for one year till March 2021 amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown to contain its spread. As per a notification of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), the existing foreign trade policy 2015-20 which is valid up to March 31 this year is extended up to March 31, 2021. Similar extension is made in the related procedures, by extending validity of Hand Book of Procedures. Commenting on the move, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director General Ajay Sahai said these decisions will help trade at a time when the global supply chain is disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

New Delhi, 31 marzo 2020 

Indian Government may abolish import duty on ventilators, masks

The Government of India may do away with import duty on various medical devices and gear, including ventilators, protective masks and Personal Protection Equipments as part of its fight against coronavirus. There have been recommendations from ministries to also remove Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on these Items, and a final call on this will have to be taken by  the GST Council. A proposal to do away with custom duty and IGST on around 15 products categories is being considered by the revenue department officials. Apart from the devices and other products needed by the medical staff, some raw material used for making masks and parts of garments and accessories are also on the wishlist that has been moved by the commerce department. On most of the products, duty levied is 10-25%, along with IGST of 12%.

 

New Delhi, 31 marzo 2020

Animal by-products export norms to EU tightened by India

The government has tightened the export norms for certain animal by-products such as bone and bone products and gelatine to the European Union. The exports of these products were free earlier but now they require a Shipment Clearance Certificate and after the shipment is made, the exporter will also have to provide a “Health Certificate” consignment wise to the buyer, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification on Tuesday. The export of bone and bone products, including Ossein intended to be used for human consumption, and edible grade gelatine were free till now. DGFT said that export is allowed freely but export to European Union is allowed subject to certain conditions such as a Shipment Clearance Certificate to be issued consignment-wise by the Chemical and Allied Export Promotion Council (CAPEXIL). “After the shipment is made, the exporter shall also provide a “Health Certificate” consignment- wise to the buyer having details of the product with HS code, packaging, its origin, destination, vessel name, date of departure, health requirement. This certificate is issued by Export Inspection Council,” DGFT said in the notification. As per an official, the EU had been demanding such tighter norms for exports for quite some time and added that the development is not linked to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

New Delhi, 30.03.2020

India asks FTA partners to temporarily allow imports without certificate of origin

India has asked the countries, with which it has free trade agreements (FTAs), to allow imports of goods without certificate of origin for the time being as the domestic authorities are currently not issuing the document on account of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The government has allowed issuing certificates of origin-retrospectively to eligible exports under various India’s trade agreements with other countries as offices temporarily closed and unable to issue the certificate of origin. India would also stand ready to honour its preferential trade agreement imports subject to the respective governments also making a formal request or putting up a notice in this regard. The relaxation comes in the wake of a lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In view of these exceptional circumstances, the certificates would be issued retrospectively by the concerned Indian agencies after they open their offices.

 

New Delhi, 29 marzo 2020

Indian Government ends FY20 divestment programme

The Government of India ended the divestment programme for 2019-20 with proceeds of Rs 50,298.6 crore (6.01 billion Euro), a shortfall of Rs 14,701 crore (1.7 billion Euros), compared with the Revised Estimates of Rs 65,000 crore (7.7 billion Euro). The Centre’s divestment plans for February and March, which included a number of offers-for-sales, an initial public offering (IPO) and a Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) sale, were hit first by the markets reacting to economic slowdown, and then to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

New Delhi, 27 marzo 2020

L’Ufficio ICE di New Delhi ha fornito il suo supporto all’Ambasciata d’Italia in India per l’organizzazione di un primo volo per il rimpatrio in Italia di connazionali che erano presenti in India. Il volo Alitalia, partito da New Delhi ha trasportato 202 italiani, 5 passeggeri dell’Unione Europea e 17 stranieri.

 

New Delhi, 26 marzo 2020

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces INR 1.7 lakh crore (EUR 20 Billion) relief package for poor

Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to deal with the economic distress caused due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown announced to deal with the situation.The finance minister had already announced some measures and  included extension of tax deadlines, easing minimum balance norms for savings accounts, and increasing the threshold of insolvency filing to INR one crore from INR one lakh. She also announced insurance cover worth INR 50 lakh for sanitation workers, ASHA workers, doctors, nurses and paramedics in case they need it as they are on the frontlines of the corona battle.

 

New Delhi, 25 marzo 2020

India prohibits export of hydroxychloroquine to deal with domestic shortage

India has prohibited export of hydroxychloroquine--considered by many as an effective drug against COVID-19 —and its associated formulations, in a notification issued on 25th March 2020. Notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade however states that the export of hydrochloroquine and formulations made from it, shall be allowed under specific conditions from units in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units. Exports will also be permitted in cases where they are made to meet export obligations or have been recommended under humanitarian grounds on case to case basis by the Ministry of External Affairs, the notification stated. Another instance under which exports will be allowed is where the irrevocable letter of credit has been issued before the date of the notification or in the case where full advance payment has been received by the exporters in India against the specific shipment, subject to the submission of documentary evidence.

 

New Delhi, 25 marzo 2020

Some Indian ports declare Force Majeure

Some ports in India have declared Force Majeure after Asia’s third-biggest economy announced a 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The federal shipping ministry has issued a letter allowing ports to use the COVID-19 pandemic as valid grounds to declare force majeure clause, according to a notification seen by Reuters. Since port services are categorised as essential services by the government, some ports are remaining open with minimal operations, but will not be responsible for any delay.

 

New Delhi, 25 marzo 2020

India prohibits export of hydroxychloroquine to deal with domestic shortage

India has prohibited export of hydroxychloroquine--considered by many as an effective drug against COVID-19 —and its associated formulations, in a notification issued on 25th March 2020. Notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade however states that the export of hydrochloroquine and formulations made from it, shall be allowed under specific conditions from units in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units. Exports will also be permitted in cases where they are made to meet export obligations or have been recommended under humanitarian grounds on case to case basis by the Ministry of External Affairs, the notification stated. Another instance under which exports will be allowed is where the irrevocable letter of credit has been issued before the date of the notification or in the case where full advance payment has been received by the exporters in India against the specific shipment, subject to the submission of documentary evidence.

 

New Delhi, 25 marzo 2020

Indian Government bans export of sanitisers and all types of ventilators

The Indian government on Tuesday (March 24, 2020) banned the export of all kinds of artificial respiratory apparatus, oxygen therapy apparatus and breathing devices, and sanitisers. The ban, aimed to prevent any scope for export by alternate classification, is in addition to the March 19 order that prohibited exports of ventilators. On March 19, the government had banned the export of certain kinds of masks, ventilators and textile raw materials for masks and coveralls amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

DGFT also changed the export norm for sanitisers from ‘free’ to ‘prohibited’. As per the notification, the government will also not honour any letter of credit established before March 24 under the transitional arrangement under the Foreign Trade Policy.

 

New Delhi, 24 marzo 2020

Estimated loss to the Indian economy slated to be $640 million due to Covid lockdown

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 24 March 2020, announced a 21-day lockdown of the country in order to curb the spread of coronavirus. According to All India Association of Industries (AIAI), the estimated loss for Indian economy slated to be $640 million with growth slated to be between 5-5.6% till 2022. Some of the negative impacts include tremendous pressure to get trade receivables from corporate,  stoppage of production and business movements, interest outstandings on business loans for SMEs, heightened Operational expenses, outstanding wages, income tax and GST payments, falling financial markets , fall in exports; and ports, aviation, tourism and hospitality terribly hit

 

New Delhi, 24 marzo 2020

Indian Government bans export of sanitisers and all types of ventilators

The Indian government on Tuesday (March 24, 2020) banned the export of all kinds of artificial respiratory apparatus, oxygen therapy apparatus and breathing devices, and sanitisers. The ban, aimed to prevent any scope for export by alternate classification, is in addition to the March 19 order that prohibited exports of ventilators. On March 19, the government had banned the export of certain kinds of masks, ventilators and textile raw materials for masks and coveralls amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

DGFT also changed the export norm for sanitisers from ‘free’ to ‘prohibited’. As per the notification, the government will also not honour any letter of credit established before March 24 under the transitional arrangement under the Foreign Trade Policy.

 

New Delhi, 24 marzo 2020

Tax filing dates extended, business rules eased, ATM, bank charges waived off in Covid relief measures in India

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures for extension of statutory and regulatory compliances in view of the coronavirus pandemic spreading its wings and impacting the economy. Allaying fears that there is no economic emergency in the country, she said that the Economic Task Force will soon announce an economic relief package to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. Debit card holders who withdraw cash from any bank ATM can do it free of any charge for next three months. There will be no charges on not keeping the minimum balance requirement, reduced digital charges for trade transactions. For Financial year 2018-19, last date for returns extended to June 30, 2020 and for delayed deposit of TDS, interest has been reduced to 9 % from 18%. All GST returns for March, April, May and composition returns extended to June 30, 2020.

 

New Delhi, 23 marzo 2020

Covid-19 may shave $245 mn off farm, marine exports to China, Italy in March

Farm and marine products exports to China and Italy may take a USD 245 million (EUR 220 million) hit in March alone due to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, says a report. Italy and China, the worst-affected by the virus pandemic, together account for close to 9% of the country's overall agriculture exports. China's share is 7.7 per cent or worth USD 192 million. Exports of marine items and farm products, excluding cotton, include spices, guargum, cereals which will be the worst-affected, and lost business opportunity is over USD 245 million, says the World Trade Centre. During the first 10 months of FY 2019-20, total agriculture exports declined 6.1 per cent to USD 27.87 billion but to China the shipments soared almost 86 per cent. Similarly, agri exports to Italy declined 6.2 per cent to USD 322 million. The complete lockdown in China and Italy as a result of Covid-19 may affect our agriculture and allied exports (excluding cotton) worth USD 245 million in March alone, an analysis of the monthly export trend in the previous year shows.

 

New Delhi, 21 marzo 2020

Freight rates set to spike as India puts ships arriving from Corona infected nations on 14-day quarantine

Freight rates for shipping commodities into India from countries requiring a voyage period of less than 14 days is expected to see a huge spike after the country’s maritime administration said that ships arriving from ports of Coronavirus infected countries identified for mandatory quarantine would have to wait outside the port till the two week period ends before allowed to unload cargo. For India, lot of commoditised shipments comes from South East Asian countries which are typically short-haul trades with voyage time of 5-7 days. So, compulsorily the ships will have to wait on the high seas for the extra 7-9 days before it can come to the port to comply with the 14-day rule since leaving the previous port.

 

New Delhi, 20 marzo 2020

Indian Government allows pharma formulations exports under export-linked scheme

The government on Friday allowed the exports of 13 formulations including those made of Vitamin B6, B12 and B1 under advance licenses issued on or before March 3. It also permitted exports of the restricted 13 active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and 13 formulations is allowed from units in special economic zones (SEZ). The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had restricted the exports of 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and formulations on March 3 to ensure there is no shortage of drugs in India due to the lockdown in China’s Hubei’s province, a major source for these raw materials that has also been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. Also, no enhancement of quantity shall be permitted for import and export items in these advance licenses. However, paracetamol, Vitamin B6, B12 and B1 continue to remain restricted.