53 Journalists Test Corona Positive; Mumbai Press Club Demands Testing Facilities, Rs50 Lakh Insurance for Journalists
As many as 53 Mumbai-based journalists have tested positive for the corona virus (COVID-19). With the pandemic not showing any signs of dying away, and journalists forced to continue to work to provide news and information to the public, Mumbai Press Club has demanded testing facilities, proper transport, safety equipment and sanitised space to work and an insurance of Rs50 lakh to journalists.
 
Gurbir Singh, president of Mumbai Press Club, in a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra, says, "As Mumbai City locked down to face the challenge of the Coronavirus, these field journalists even today continue to stand by their duty, filing their reports, taking photographs and recording videos in the most hazardous locations. Most media houses have shut their offices and have not provided any protective gear, or special insurance to these frontline personnel. However, they continue to demand reports and visuals and expect the journalists to move around the city risking life and limb."
 
Mumbai Press Club had taken some initiative to provide some logistical support as well as accident insurance but that is not enough, Mr Singh says, adding "While some of us have the privilege of working from home, many journalists have still to venture out in hazardous zones and common spaces, and require immediate protection."
 
Here is what Mumbai Press Club has demanded...
 
As journalists and news media are declared as ‘essential services’ we request you to take the following immediate steps to safeguard our lives and profession:
 
1. Ensure that all media companies immediately provide proper transport, safety equipment and sanitized space to work. Where it is not possible for the media companies to provide the above, the state government should ensure necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitized space to those venturing in the field.
 
2. To provide immediate testing facilities for all journalists who are suspecting symptoms, or who have been in proximity of colleagues who have tested positive. There should be no time lost in this, and the testing location must be a captive facility without crowding and only for journalists.
 
3. The state government has been providing special insurance cover for all emergency and essential category of workers who are tackling the coronavirus pandemic for the sum of Rs 50 lakh. Since journalists are performing an ‘essential service’, it is requested that the category of working journalists be brought under the same umbrella with cover of Rs 50 lakh and provided the protection of an essential worker.
 
 
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    COVID-19 Lock-down: Policy Measures To Provide Only Temporary Relief to State Finances; Onus on Centre To Extend Support says Report
    The impact of the nation-wide lock-down is being felt by both private businesses and governments alike. However, the burden of implementing the lock-down and ensuring that the essential goods and services remain available to the citizens has fallen on the shoulder of the states governments. As a result, they are facing the double whammy of dried-up cash flow and higher expenditure. To overcome this unprecedented liquidity mismatch, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central government have announced several measures which are indeed, welcome steps to ease the liquidity pressure of states but India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) believes this will provide only temporary relief to the state governments.
     
    The measures announced by the government and RBI include, increase in the ways and means advances (WMA) limits to state governments by 60% over the existing limit as at FY19-20E,  increase in the number of days a state or union territory can be in overdraft continuously to 21 working days from 14 and the number of days a state or union territory can be in overdraft in a quarter to 50 working days from 36.
     
    Under Article 293(3) of Constitution of India, states are also allowed to raise Rs3.2 trillion during the first nine months (9M) of FY20-21 of which they are slated to borrow Rs1.27 trillion during 1QFY20-21. States have already borrowed Rs446.88 billion in two tranches and as per borrowing calendar another Rs152.25 billion is proposed to be borrowed in April 2020. Advance release of Rs110.92 billion central share from state disaster risk management fund for FY20-21 and Rs61.95 billion revenue deficit grant under 15th finance commission, is also allowed by the Union government. .
     
    Additionally, the investment in consolidated sinking fund (CSF), guarantee redemption fund (GRF), government securities and auction treasury bills (ATBs) will also aid the states in mitigating liquidity or resource crunch. In mid-August 2019, 24 states were members of the CSF and 18 of GRF scheme. 
     
    The regulator has provided a special drawing facility to state governments against the consolidated sinking fund (CSF), guarantee redemption fund (GRF), auction treasury bills (ATBs) and government securities. The interest rate charged on this facility is 200 basis points (bps) lower than the repo rate. As on 29 February 2020, all states combined had Rs1,287.56 billion in CSF, Rs74.07 billion in GRF, Rs6.62 billion in government securities and Rs481.02 billion in ATBs, totalling INR1,849.27 billion. 
     
    Ind-Ra has analysed the monthly expenditure of 18 states based on their FY20-21 state budgets, for April 2020 and the liquidity available with the state governments in the form of CSF, GRF, ATBs and government securities, FY20-21 market borrowings and increased WMA limits. 
     
    It says, "Most of the states (14) will be able to make payments on their commitments in April 2020. However, four states – Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh - despite the support mentioned above, may face pressure in the near-run and may find it difficult to make payments, if the lock-down continues beyond 3 May 2020."
     
    "Significant revenue from own sources has dried up and if the lock down continues, many more states will find it difficult to make payments. Several states have already deferred a part of the salary of state government employees. In such a situation, we believe the central government will have to do the heavy lifting of raising money and pass it on to the state governments for expenditure. The central government, though being the best credit in the country, is also facing headwinds of higher borrowing costs in the lock-down; the challenges for the states are much larger," the ratings agency says. 
     
    The spread on state development loans auctioned on 13 April 2020 for a 10-year period was in the range of 110-115bps. For Kerala, the spread on 15-year state development loan widened to over 200bps.
     
    According to Ind-Ra, the WMA relief is too little to help, as it means additional liquidity of just Rs193.35 billion. "We believe the short-term liquidity enhancing measure may provide some reprieve, but is not the solution for the shortfall in states’ revenue. Most states may be able to make payments in April 2020 using reserve funds, enhanced WMA limits, and other revenues. However, if the revenue sources of the states remain weak even in May 2020, it will be difficult to make committed payments," it added.
     
    The sources of state government revenue are state own tax revenue (SOTR), share in Central taxes, state own non-tax revenue (SONTR) and grants from the Centre. The average proportion (FY2018 to FY20(BE)) of SOTR in revenue receipts is around 46%, the same for share in central taxes, SONTR and grants is 26%, 8% and 20%, respectively. 
     
    More than 90% of SOTR is generated from five revenue heads – taxes on property and capital transactions (11.2%), state value added tax (VAT) (mainly petroleum products, 21.5%), state excise (mainly liquor, 11.9%), tax on vehicle (5.7%) and state goods and services tax (39.9%). During the lock-down period, SOTR has declined significantly, barring some sale of petroleum products and state goods and services tax on non-discretionary spending, Ind-Ra points out.
     
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    Vijay Mallya loses appeal against extradition order to India
    Fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya on Monday lost his appeal in an UK court against an extradition order to India on charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.
     
    The High Court in London upheld a 2018 ruling to send him back to India on grounds that Mallya made a number of misrepresentations leading to the 2012 collapse of his company, Kingfisher Airlines
     
    The former liquor tycoon had appealed to the High Court against his extradition to India at a hearing in February this year.
     
    Lord Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London dismissed the appeal in a judgment handed down remotely due to the current coronavirus lockdown.
     
    "We consider that while the scope of the prima facie case found by the SDJ [Senior District Judge] is in some respects wider than that alleged by the Respondent in India [Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED)], there is a prima facie case which, in seven important respects, coincides with the allegations in India," the judges ruled.
     
    Mallya is wanted in India on alleged fraud of the banks and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    adityag

    6 months ago

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