CHENNAI SATURDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2020 `5.00 PAGES 30 LATE CITY EDITION EXPORTS DOWN BY 1.66% IN JAN, SIXTH DIP IN A ROW IMPORTS SHRINK, TRADE DEFICIT WIDENS India’s exports contracted to $25.97 billion last month, trade data released by the commerce ministry on Friday showed The country’s imports, too, registered a $41.14 billion dip (0.75%) in January, leaving a $15.17 billion trade deficit for the month. During the April 2019-January 2020 period, India’s total exports declined by 1.93% to $265.26 billion, while imports slipped 8.12% to $398.53 billion, leaving the trade deficit at $133.27 billion for the six-month period ■ 293% WHOLESALE INFLATION AT 10-MONTH HIGH ■ Meanwhile, the wholesale price index-based inflation surged to a 10-month high of 3.1% in January, thanks to a rise in the price of food items, particularly onion and potato Govt data released earlier this week showed retail inflation for January soared to a six-year high of 7.59% | P19 JUMP IN ONION PRICES WHILE JANUARY VEGETABLE INFLATION STOOD AT 52.72% CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI A G R I C U LT U R E F O O D W O M E N I N D U S T R I E S Total allocation stands at `11,894 crore. Eight agro processing clusters at a cost of `218 crore will be established in as many districts. Amma Unavagams will turn into ‘food on wheels’ with Chennai Corporation purchasing 50 trucks from `100-crore allocation. An outlay of `78,796.12 cr proposed for women. `959 cr allotted for maternity scheme and `726 cr for marriage assistance scheme. Ponneri Industrial Node of Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor will be developed at a cost of `32,713 crore in Tiruvallur district. BUDGET 2020-21 SANS POPULIST MEASURES T M U R U G A N A N D H A M @ Chennai BELYING general expectations, the last full-fledged budget of the AIADMK government was presented on Friday without any populist measure. Struggling to make both ends meet with the available resources, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam presented a revenuedeficit budget for 2020-21 wherein debt burden of the State government is estimated to touch `4.56 lakh crore by next March. However, Finance Secretary S Krishnan described the budget as a “growth-oriented and realistic one” which has made significant allocations for capital expenditure. He asserted that the debt level has been contained within the norms. In the same vein, Panneerselvam pointed out that Tamil Nadu had withstood fierce global and national level economic headwinds. Painting a rosy picture for economy of the State in the forthcoming years, Panneerselvam said, “The growth rate of Tamil Nadu in the current financial year is projected to be 7.27 per cent, which is higher than the national level growth rate of 5 per cent.” He exuded confidence that the State would register even stronger g rowth performance in 2020-21. Admitting that Tamil Deputy CM O Panneerselvam presenting the Budget in the presence of CM Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday | P JAWAHAR Nadu continues to see sustained increase of its revenue deficit, Panneerselvam attributed this to the burden imposed on State finances by the takeover of debt and losses of TANGEDCO under the UDAY scheme; the lag effect of implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission and the slower growth in tax revenue both at the Centre and the State. Panneerselvam also made TN growth rate is higher than national rate: OPS TN has withstood fierce global and national economic headwinds, Deputy CM O Panneerselvam has said. The growth rate in the current financial year is projected to be 7.27 per cent, which is higher than the national level growth rate of 5 per cent. new announcements for various sectors which included a five-year CM’s Rural Self Sufficiency Development Programme for local bodies, launching of Not-For-Profit Special Purpose Vehicle to finance and manage the Amma Unavagam Scheme, starting Chennai City Partnership as a unique model of development cooperation with the World Bank to ensure continued sustainable g rowth of metropolitan Chennai, fitting CCTV cameras in all buses to ensure safety of women, eight agro processing clusters at a cost of `218 crore, developing the Ponneri Industrial Node of the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) on an area of 21,966 acres in Tiruvallur district, gender budget statement with an outlay of `78,796.12 crore towards women and launching of Tamil Nadu State Child P4 Policy . Pay L1.5 L cr on the DoT by midnight, govt warns telcos after SC’s sniping Better scrap SC if telecom dept desk officer has the audacity to stay order, says judge timates. Only Reliance Jio complied with the SC direction on time, paying `190 crore dues. ALL hopes of judicial relief “We have dismissed review turned to ashes for India’s in- plea in adjusted gross revenue cumbent telecom majors on case, but still not a single penny Friday in the face of the Su- has been deposited… Is this not preme Court’s fiery indigna- about money power?” thuntion over non-compliance of its dered Mishra. The SC’s anger orders in the adjusted gross was directed in large part torevenue (AGR) case. Headward the DoT’s order asking a three-judge bench, ing officials not to take Justice Arun Mishra any coercive action launched into a furiagainst non-compliant ous tirade pulling up telcos. both the companies “A desk officer is sitand the Department of ting in appeal over our Telecom (DoT) for vioorders!... If a desk oflating its order man- Airtel to pay ficer has the audacity dating January 23 as `10,000 cr by to stay a Supreme the deadline for pay- February 20 Court order, then let’s ment of `1.47 lakh Bharti Airtel has wind up the Supreme crore in AGR dues. Court!” said Mishra. written to the The SC’s anger saw DoT promising to The officer’s “tethe DoT hastily re- pay up `10,000 merity” in passing the verse a previous order crore by February order was “nothing asking officials not to 20 and the rest but a device to scuttle” take “coercive action” the SC’s direction, the by the next against non-compliant hearing on March bench observed. “Who telcos and directing is sponsoring all this? 17, sources said the telcos to clear their At whose behest he dues by 11.59 pm on Friday . did this? Should we say this ofAGR is the basis on which ficer was hand in gloves with levies like licence fees and those who didn’t want to pay?” spectrum usage charges are Mishra asked. calculated and the SC had The hearing culminated in ruled last year this should in- the SC drawing up contempt of clude proceeds from licence- court proceedings against the holders’ non-telecom business- DoT officer and directing the es, too. Petitioners Bharti directors of non-compliant telAirtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata cos to show cause by the next Teleservices collectively owe hearing on March 17 as to why over `1 lakh crore to the gov- similar action should not be ernment, according to DoT es- taken against them. J O N AT H A N A N A N D A & K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi RELIEF FOR AMAZON, FLIPKART Karnataka HC on Friday stayed a probe by Competition Commission of India against Amazon, Flipkart for alleged breach of competition laws P19 Anti-CAA protests erupt across city Positive steps taken for normalcy in the Valley, but need to lift more curbs: EU EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi @ Chennai OVER 5,000 people, including women and children, gathered near the pencil factory in Old Washermentpet in Chennai and protested against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR) on Friday . Protesters blocked interior streets and entrance to the Mint Bridge leading to a traffic snarl and 1,000 police personnel deployed there forcefully removed the protesters and put them in detention. When some of them resisted, police resorted to lathicharge. ‘Lathicharged 3 times’ “They resorted to lathicharge three times between 2 pm and 5 pm. Some injured protesters were taken to Stanley Government Hospital and one was shifted to Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital,” said Kasali, a protester. This led to tension in the area and sparked protests in Alandur and Anna Salai in the city and several places across the State, including Madurai and Coimbatore. Police temporarily blocked the Mint bridge to prevent more protesters from gathering. But, the crowd at Washermanpet reP3 fused to budge. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE European Union on Friday took note of the “positive steps” taken by New Delhi to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, but urged the Centre to lift the remaining restrictions as soon as possible. “The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy. Some restrictions remain, notably on internet access and mobile services, and some political leaders are still in deten- tion. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly,” the statement from EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Virginie BattuHenriksson read. The statement came a day after 25 foreign envoys, including one from the EU, wrapped up their two-day visit to the Union Territory to assess the ground realities, six months after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two union territories. The EU statement assumes significance as it comes weeks after the European Parliament debated a resolution on CAA. The voting on it is expected to be held in the next plenary session in March. WHO OWES WHAT 15 entities owe the govt a total of `1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues. Here are some of the top defaulters `53,000 crore Vodafone Idea Airtel `35,586 cr RCom `21,140 cr Tata Tele `13,823 cr Aircel `10,229.77 cr BSNL+MTNL `8,112.34 cr In the absence of recapitalisation from promoters, it is unlikely that VIL will be able to pay in one go Sr telecom analyst Is it the end of the road for Idea of Vodafone? J O N AT H A N A N A N D A @ New Delhi INDIA’’s telecom sector is just a stone’s throw away from becoming a duopoly after the Supreme Court dismissed last-ditch pleas for relief from telcos on Friday The move places a ques. tion mark over the survival of Vodafone Idea (VIL), which repeatedly warned that it may not be able to continue as a going concern in the absence of relief. VIL did not respond to requests for comment. If VIL exits, it will leave just Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio in effective competition, since state-run BSNL-MTNL remains in the doldrums. Analysts say VIL’s cash flow and balances indicate that it will not be able to meet its liabilities of `53,000 crore in one-go. “Our ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on the positive outcome of the modification application filed in the apex court and the subsequent agreement with DoT for payment in instalments after some moratorium and other reliefs,” VIL had said just a day earlier, announcing a net loss of `6,439 crore for the quarter ended December 2019. Vodafone Idea’s promoter groups — Vodafone Plc and the Aditya Birla Group — have also effectively ruled out any further capital infusion in the Indian company . ‘Speaker initiated action COVID-19 Third Indian on disqualification plea’ crew on cruise ing against the trust motion, these MLAs violated the whip issued by the ruling party and THE Tamil Nadu government hence attracted disqualificainformed the Supreme Court tion under the anti-defection on Friday that Assembly law. Speaker P Dhanapal has Senior advocate Kapil initiated action on the Sibal appeared for the DMK’s petition allegDMK. ing that he did not act The Madras High on a plea seeking disCourt in April 2018 disqualification of 11 AImissed the DMK’s plea ADMK MLAs who votseeking to disqualify e d a g a i n s t C h i e f SC disposes the MLAs, citing penMinister Edappadi K dency of a plea in the DMK plea Palaniswami during a Bench headed apex court on the powconfidence vote in ers of a court to issue by CJI SA 2017. Bobde disposes directions to an AsA Bench headed by sembly Speaker. petition filed Chief Justice of India On February 4, the by the DMK SA Bobde took note of Bench led by the CJI alleging that the submission and the Speaker did had said, “A Speaker disposed of the peti- not take action cannot simply have tion filed by the DMK. disqualification petion its plea The plea had sought tions remain pending disqualification of on his desk indefinitePanneerselvam and 10 others ly This delay was unnecessary . . for having voted against the This delay of three years government when they were should have been avoided. A part of a rebel camp. Speaker can’t sit on such petiIt had contended that by vot- tions for three years.” EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi IN THE SPOTLIGHT Bengal youth is the lead character in J K Rowling’s next novel P R A N A B M O N D A L @ Kolkata NETRAPRASAD Sharma, a Class X dropout from Pampu bustee in West Bengal’s Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest, received an international call, a few days ago. He could hardly believe himself when the caller identified herself as J K Rowling, the world-renowned British author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling told Sharma, who works as a tour guide in the reserve forest zone, that she want- ed to feature him as the main character in her upcoming novel. After the call, she sent Sharma a 272-page draft of the novel with a request to meet her in California to discuss the finer details about his life and work. “She helped me to get a passport and my visa application approved. I am California bound this July said Sharma. ,’’ The seed of Sharma’s journey from Buxa to California was sown a year ago when a group of six US students visited the tiger reserve. They were impressed by Sharma’s knowledge of the wildlife, including his ability to track the locations of wild animals. After the tour ended, the students interviewed him for more than an hour. During the interview, recorded on camera, he narrated his plight —how he I could not believe myself. She (J K Rowling) decided to portray me as the main character of her next novel after watching my interview and sought my permission. We interacted for more than an hour - Netraprasad Sharma stopped pursuing higher education because of a financial crisis at home and how his love for nature made him a tour guide. “After the students left, I got busy with my profession and forgot them,’’ recounted Sharma. “A few days ago, I received a call from one of the students named Laura. She told me that J K Rowling wanted to speak. I could not believe myself. Rowling wanted to portray me in her next novel after watching the interview by students.” ship tests +ve EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Kochi/Chennai A third Indian crew member on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Indian Embassy in Tokyo said on Friday . “1 more Indian crew member on #DiamondPrincess tested positive for #COVID19 and hospitalised for treatment. Earlier, 2 more Indian nationals had tested positive. @IndianEmbTokyo is in contact with all 3,” the Embassy tweeted. Meanwhile, all three people, who were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus infection in Kerala, have fully recovered, the state’s health authorities reported. The three, who returned from China, had been under treatment at isolation wards. At the national level, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan assured the states that the situation is under control and is being regularly monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office. On Friday, she chaired a meeting of health secretaries from the states and the UTs. Across India, about 15,991 people are under house observation. Of them, 497 have relevant symptoms and 41 have been hospitalised. In Tamil Nadu, samples of 43 tested for the infect i o n re t u r n e d negative on Friday. Across the state 2,109 are under watch. The global death toll inched closer to 1,400 on Friday | P10 .
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15022020 of The New Indian Express-Chennai
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