STIMULUS 3.0: CENTRE PUSHES JOBS AND INFRA, EXPANDS SUPPORT TO RURAL SECTOR - The Daily Guardian
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STIMULUS 3.0: CENTRE PUSHES JOBS AND INFRA, EXPANDS SUPPORT TO RURAL SECTOR

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Announcing a fresh stimulus package and calling it ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0’, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman laid down a total of 12 new measures to support the economy and industry, ranging from employment generation, collateral-free credit for stressed sectors to subsidised fertiliser for farmers.

The Finance Minister announced the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana’ to incentivise creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid-recovery phase. The employment scheme, effective from 1 October, will be applicable to eligible new employees joining the EPFO-registered establishments and for those who exited these concerns during the Covid pandemic (1 March to 30 September 2020) and drawing monthly wages of less than Rs 15,000.

Under the scheme, the central government will subsidise the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) contributions for two years. The Centre will provide 12 per cent of the contributions of both employers and the employee for establishments with up to 1,000 employees. In the case of establishments with over 1,000 employees, the Centre will only subsidise 12 per cent of the employees’ EPF contributions.

Also, in order to provide a further boost to rural employment, the government will provide an additional outlay of Rs 10,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana. The government will provide Rs 65,000 crore to farmers to ensure adequate supply of fertilisers in the upcoming crop season.

In a major decision to support the pandemic-hit industry, the government has also announced an Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS 2.0) for providing much needed relief to stressed sectors by helping entities sustain employment and meet liabilities. The ECLGS scheme for MSMEs, MUDRA loan borrowers and individuals has been extended till March next year.In a bid to boost housing sales, Sitharaman announced an increase in the permitted differential between the circle rate and agreement value of housing units to 20 per cent from the current mandated limit of 10 per cent till 30 June. The increase in differential will be applicable in residential units of value up to Rs 2 crore. Section 43CA of IT Act restricts differential between circle rate and agreement value at 10 per cent. However, prices may actually be lower than that, and the restrictions curbs sale of housing units.

To provide ease of doing business and relief to contractors whose money otherwise remains locked up, performance security on contracts will be reduced to 3 per cent earnest money deposit (EMD) for tenders will be replaced by bid security self-declaration. The relaxation will be available till 31 December 2021.

The Centre will also make an additional outlay of Rs 18,000 crore for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), which is likely to help ground 12 lakh houses and complete 18 lakh houses, as per the Finance Minister.

In another boost for infrastructure development, the government will invest Rs 6,000 crore in the NIIF (National Infrastructure Investment Fund) debt platform, which will provide infrastructure project financing of Rs 1,10,000 crore.

The Finance Minister said that the total value of the Centre’s stimulus support so far is about Rs 30 lakh crore, post the three rounds of ‘Aatmanirbhat Bharat’ economic measure and the measures by the Reserve Bank of India amid the pandemic. Total stimulus accounts for 15 per cent of the GDP, with the Central government’s component being 9 per cent and the rest of the RBI.

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CONGRESS’ PERFORMANCE IN ASSEMBLY POLLS VERY DISAPPOINTING: SONIA GANDHI

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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.

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WB moves SC seeking direction to disband current vaccination policy

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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.

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Ministry requests states, UTs to prioritise beneficiaries of 2nd dose of vaccine

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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.

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Virat and Anushka start a Covid fundraiser, donate Rs 2 crore

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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.

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WHO APPROVES CHINESE VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE

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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”.

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SC REFUSES TO INTERFERE IN CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT

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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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