QBiz: Rs 1.7 Trillion Package for Poor; Growth Forecast Slashed

1. Coronavirus Lockdown: Govt Unveils Rs 1.7-Trillion Package for the Poor

A couple of days after the three-week nationwide lockdown came into force, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1.7-trillion food-security and income-transfer package for the urban and rural poor.

The package includes free foodgrain for 800 million people for three months, insurance cover for essential-service providers, front loading PM Kisan instalments, and increase in wages under the employment guarantee programme.

Sitharaman also promised a one-time payment to women Jan Dhan accountholders and widows belonging to economically backward sections, pensioners, and differently abled; extra free cylinders for Ujjwala beneficiaries; a hike in collateral-free loans for self-help groups; operationalising a construction workers’ fund; and contributing to organised sector workers’ employees’ provident fund (EPF) accounts.

(Source: Business Standard)

2. Crisil Cuts India's FY21 Growth Forecast to 3.5% Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The severe dent in the economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic led rating agency Crisil to sharply cut its growth estimate for 2020-21 to 3.5 percent, on Thursday.

Earlier, the agency had predicted an economic growth of 5.2 percent for the next financial year.

The agency welcomed the Rs 1.70-trillion package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier in the day but said more measures like loan forbearances for small businesses and households are necessary.

(Source: Business Standard)

3. FMCG Leaders Mark Down Overall Growth to 3% Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The Rs 4.3-trillion fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market may see its overall growth rate decline to 3 percent in the January-March period as measures to contain the impact of COVID-19 intensify, top companies have told Business Standard. The gloomy industry projection is in sharp contrast to the forecast by research agency Nielsen, which has maintained its 5-6 percent quarterly growth outlook.

The assessment by companies is based on the lockdown and supply crunch that most of them are facing. “There is no denying that there is an impact on business because of the virus scare,” said Mayank Shah, senior category head, Parle Products.

(Source: Business Standard)

4. YES Bank Board Clears Rs 5,000 Cr Capital Raising Plan in Multiple Tranches

Ailing private sector lender YES Bank will raise up to Rs 5,000 crore as equity capital in the second round to meet regulatory requirement and support business.

The board, at its meeting on Thursday, approved raising of funds for an additional amount aggregating up to Rs 5,000 crore in one or more tranches, by issuing securities, the bank informed the exchange. Its shares closed 10.27 percent lower at Rs 26.65 per share on the BSE.

The bank has kept options open to use routes like qualified institutional placement, public issue, rights issue, global depository receipts, American depository receipts, and foreign currency convertible bonds or any other permissible mode, it added.

(Source: Business Standard)

Also Read: What are the Penalties for Violating the Coronavirus Lockdown?

5. Markets Extend Rally on Stimulus Boost; Sensex up 1,411 Pts, Nifty Above 8,600

The Indian markets surged for a third straight day on Thursday, posting their best three-day gains in years, spurred by stimulus deals announced by policymakers around the globe to combat the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sensex rose 1,411 points, or 4.94 percent, to end at 29,947. After dropping to 2016 levels on Monday, the 30-share index has rebounded 15 percent. The Nifty50 index rose 323.6 points, or 3.9 percent, to end at 8,641, up 13.6 percent over its Monday’s close of 7,610.

The pullback has been so sharp that many on the Street are saying Monday’s levels could be the bottom for the market, and that the benchmark indices could rise further if the efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were a success.

(Source: Business Standard)

6. Rupee Rises Against US Dollar, a Day After Hitting Record Low

The rupee today gained against the US dollar today amid a broad weakening of the greenback after US Federal Reserve announced another round of stimulus measures to cushion the impact of coronavirus on American economy. Other Asian currencies were also higher against the US dollar today. The rupee today rose to 75.93 per US dollar at day's high, as compared to previous close of 76.29. The rupee had hit a record low of 76.32 against the US dollar in the previous session.

Paring some early gains, the rupee settled higher at 76.10 per dollar. Indian stocks markets also failed to sustain early gains and the Sensex ended nearly 700 points higher.

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: How Kerala’s Health Department Is Fighting Coronavirus

7. COVID-19: PIL in SC Seeks Declaration of Financial Emergency

A public interest litigation has been filed in Supreme Court on Thursday seeking declaration of financial emergency in light of nationwide lockdown amidst rising cases of COVID-19.

The PIL by Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) filed against Ministry of Home Affairs and seeks the imposition of financial emergency under Article 360 of the Constitution of India as it submits that unified commands by the Centre and state can address this issue more efficiently. The petitioner claim that difference in the order imposed by various states and the centre is creating confusion and state of lawlessness in an already difficult situation.

(Source: Livemint)

8. Delhi Police Withdraws Order Allowing Online Retail Firms to Re-Start Services

Hours after allowing several online retail firms to re-start their delivery services, the Delhi police on Thursday withdrew its previous order with "immediate effect", officials said.

The police had issued a statement directing its personnel to allow persons and vehicles engaged in essential services to operate in Delhi and listed names of retailers and online delivery services that should be allowed to function.

However, the order was withdrawn with immediate effect hours after it was issued, stating that the revised guidelines will be released and all traffic, picket and beat staff would be briefed accordingly.

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: Does Modi Govt’s Economic Package Cover All Vulnerable Groups?

9. EPF Rules Changed for Getting Non-Refundable Advance

To help tide over hardship caused by the coronavirus lockdown, Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) rules will be relaxed, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced today. EPF subscribers can now withdraw 75 percent of their PF balance or 3 month wages as a non-refundable advance, whichever is lower. This will benefit about benefit 4.8 crore employees.

Experts have welcomed the move. "The proposal to permit non-refundable advance to employees out of their PF balances will help employees to tide over their liquidity issues," says Saraswathi Kasturirangan, partner at Deloitte India.

(Source: Livemint)

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