A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Wednesday, announced a slew of measures to give boost to sectors such as MSME, real estate and power discoms, among others. In her opening remarks, the FM said that the tranche had 16 different measures.
Six of these are for the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), two are for Employees Provident Fund (EPF), two for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and microfinance institutions (MFIs), one for discoms, one for contractors, one for real estate, and three are tax measures. Elaborating further, she said that essentially the goal is to build a self-reliant India, which is why the economic package is called the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.
Citing the five pillars that comprise the package, she added that the focus of the government would be on land, labour, liquidity and law. According to the FM, the Prime Minister laid out a comprehensive vision, which was laid out after wide consultations with different sections of society.
She added that she would be detailing the PM’s vision of self-reliant India over the next few days. The primary measures announced by the Finance Minister comprised six steps to boost the MSME sector. The first step is a collateral free loan of Rs 3 lakh crore for businesses including MSMEs. These loans will have a four-year tenure, with a moratorium of 12 months on principal repayment. This will be available to units with up to Rs 25 core outstanding and a turnover of up to Rs 100 crore.
The units will not have to provide any guarantee or collateral of their own and the said amount will be 100% guaranteed by Government of India. This move will help more than 45 lakh MSMEs. The second step will be to help MSMEs that are stressed or NPAs. Government has announced that these MSMEs will get a subordinate debt of Rs 20,000 crore. The Central government will give a partial guarantee of Rs 4,000 crore and this move will help 2 lakh MSMEs.
The third step is called Fund of Funds and under this, NPAs that are in good financial condition and want to expand their production, for them a sum of Rs 50,000 crore has been allocated through equity. The fourth step is that the government has changed the definition of MSME by raising their investment limit. According to the FM, until now a company was called micro if the investment limit was Rs 25 lakh.
Now this limit has been increased to Rs 1 crore, with a turnover of Rs 5 crore. In the same way, the limit of investment in small MSMEs has been increased to under Rs 10 crore, with a turnover under Rs 50 crore. Medium MSME enterprises will be those with an investment of Rs 20 crore and a turnover less than Rs 100 crore. The fifth step is being seen as a step towards self-reliance and support to “Make in India”.
The government announced that global tenders would be disallowed in government’s procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore. This will help MSMEs to increase their business. The sixth and final step would be that Government of India and all Central public sector enterprises would pay whatever payment is due in the next 45 days. According to experts, this amount is approximately Rs 50,000 crore.
To ease financial stress, the government has decided to continue EPF support for businesses and workers for three more months. This step will provide a liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore. According to the Finance Minister, this move will benefit around 3.6 lakh establishments and 72.22 lakh employees. Apart from this, the statutory PF contribution by an employer and employee has been reduced to 10% and this will result in giving a liquidity relief of Rs 6,750 crore.
NBFCs, HFCs and MFIs
The government has launched a Rs 30,000 crore special liquidity scheme for non-banking financial companies, micro finance companies and housing finance companies. Apart from this, for NBFCs, government has announced a loan of Rs 45,000 crore through a partial credit guarantee scheme. In this, the loss of initial 20% will be borne by the Central government.
A sum of Rs 90,000 crore, in two equal instalments, will be given to discoms facing unprecedented cash flow problem. This will be given through PFC and REC. CPSE and GENCOs will pass this rebate to those discom companies that are passing on the relief to the consumer.
Calling on the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to advice states/ UTs and their regulatory authorities to treat Covid-19 as an event of Force Majeure (Act of God), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that registration and completion date of all registered projects, expiring on or after 25 March, should be suo moto extended by six months. The minister added that these measures will de-stress real estate developers and ensure completion of projects so that homebuyers are able to get delivery of their booked homes with new timelines.
All Central agencies like Railways and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and CPWD will give extensions of up to six months, without cost to contractor, to complete their projects.
TAX RELATED MEASURES
A reduction of 25% for rates of tax deduction at source (TDS) and tax collected at source for a period up to 31 March 2021 was announced. This step will provide liquidity to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore. The due date for income tax returns for the year 2019-20 has been extended to 30 November 2020.
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CONGRESS’ PERFORMANCE IN ASSEMBLY POLLS VERY DISAPPOINTING: SONIA GANDHI
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday termed her party’s performance in the recently-concluded assembly polls as “very disappointing” and said the party “must learn appropriate lesson” from the setback in the spirit of humility and honesty. Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, Gandhi said Congress Working Committee will meet shortly to review the results. She also termed the party’s performance as “unexpected”.
“Most unfortunately, our own performance in all the states was very disappointing and if I may say, unexpectedly so. The CWC is meeting shortly to review the results but it goes without saying that we as a party collective must draw the appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility and honesty,” she said.
Gandhi also congratulated Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and DMK chief MK Stalin for their “handsome victories”.
Congress suffered defeats in Assam and West Bengal and could not open its account in West Bengal where it had won over 40 seats in 2016 polls. The Congress could win only two seats in Puducherry where it was in power about two months back. Only in Tamil Nadu, the party gave a credible performance as part of the DMK-led alliance which swept to power, defeating the AIADMK-led alliance.
The Congress-led Mahajot was the main challenger to the ruling BJP-led NDA in Assam and Congress-led UDF to the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala. While NDA returned to power in Assam, the LDF returned to power in Kerala.
WITH ANI INPUTS
WB moves SC seeking direction to disband current vaccination policy
The Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government on Friday moved to the Supreme Court seeking direction to disband the current Covid-19 vaccination policy and bring in uniform vaccination policy by doing away with the differential pricing mechanism. Disband the “Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination” policy and adopt and implement a uniform policy of procuring 100 percent doses of Covid-19 which can be equitably distributed to the States and Union Territories for free de-centralized distribution,” the plea said.
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting free Covid vaccination for all citizens. “I firmly believe that this battle against Covid will be won with coordinated and collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in augmenting infrastructure and an earnest drive for universal vaccination free of cost. I am looking forward to your kind cooperation in this regard. With regards,” stated Mamata in the letter to the Prime Minister.
She had also slammed the PM for not receiving any reply from him over her letter regarding the free Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens. “I have not got any reply till now from PM Modi over the issue of free vaccination. He must be busy,” Mamata said. The third phase of the vaccination drive commenced on May 1 making everyone above the age of 18 eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The Covid vaccine manufacturing companies are empowered to release up to 50 per cent of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price. The Covid-19 situation in India continues to deteriorate amid the second wave of coronavirus infections.
With a total of 4,14,188 new Covid-19 cases being recorded in the last 24 hours, India again reported its highest single-day spike on the second consecutive day. With this, the cumulative count of cases in the country reached 2,14,91,598, informed Union Health Ministry.
Ministry requests states, UTs to prioritise beneficiaries of 2nd dose of vaccine
The Union Health Ministry on Friday requested all the states and Union Territories to prioritise the beneficiaries of the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. “From the side of the Union Health Ministry, we requested all the states/ UTs to prioritise the beneficiaries of the second dose and ensure the timely completion of the recommended vaccination schedule,” Additional Secretary (Health) Arti Ahuja said during a media briefing.
The Ministry also urged that the states / UTs to use the vaccines received by them through the ‘Government of India channel’ in 70:30 ratio for the second dose and the first dose respectively. “Secondly, utilise the supplies of the vaccines through the Government of India channel in the 70:30 ratio for the second dose and the first dose respectively and do a regular review of the coverage of the vaccination drive,” said Ahuja.
The Ministry also said that so far, a total of 16.50 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across all categories.
“Among the Healthcare workers, so far, 0.95 crore doses have been administered for the first dose and 0.64 crore doses have been given as the second dose. Similarly, for the frontline workers, 1.38 crore doses for the first dose and 0.75 crore doses for the second dose have been given,” the Additional Secretary (Health) said.
Virat and Anushka start a Covid fundraiser, donate Rs 2 crore
As India battles with the Covid-19 pandemic, several Bollywood celebrities and cricketers have come forward and shown their support by raising funds or providing oxygen concentrators and food essentials.
After Sachin Tendulkar, Pat Cummins, the Indian Cricket Team Skipper Virat Kohli and his actress wife Anushka Sharma are raising funds for providing help during the Covid pandemic.
Virat and Anushka have started a fundraiser for Covid-19 relief work in India and have requested their fans to donate to the fund. The couple has donated Rs 2 crore.
Virat and Anushka took to their respective social media handles and posted about the fundraiser for the people of India. Anushka said, “India is going through an extremely difficult time and the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic has pushed our country to a state of crisis. It is time for all of us to come together and do our bit for our fellow countrymen who are in serious need of support. Virat and I have been hugely pained looking at the inexplicable suffering that people are going through and we hope that this fund will aid in our fight against the virus that we are all helplessly witnessing. We are praying for everyone’s safety. We hope that you join us in our prayers to save as many lives as possible because we are all in this together. #InThisTogether”
Virat said, “We are going through an unprecedented time in the history of our country and our nation needs all of us to unite and save as many people as possible. Anushka and I have been shocked to see human suffering since last year. We have been working towards helping as many people as possible all through the pandemic and now, India wants our support more than ever. We are starting this fundraiser with the confidence that we will be able to raise substantial funds to aid those in dire need. We are confident that people will come forward to support fellow countrymen in crisis. We are in this together and we shall overcome this. #InThisTogether” The couple has collaborated with Ketto for raising funds.
WHO APPROVES CHINESE VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE
GENEVA: The World Health Organization approved the emergency use of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, on Friday. It’s the first Chinese vaccine to receive WHO’s approval, although it is already being used in several poor countries. There is not much data about how effective Sinopharm is, however, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that the Chinese vaccine had received WHO’s validation of “safety, efficacy and quality”.
SC REFUSES TO INTERFERE IN CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday urged the Delhi High Court to consider the PIL filed seeking a stay on the construction work of the Central Vista project in the national capital and asked the High Court to issue orders related to the matter. An apex court bench comprising Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari on Friday heard the petition for the Special Leave Petition filed by the petitioner. The SC heard the plea and has requested the Delhi HC to consider it and pass orders stating that the matter involves extreme urgency.
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