KOTTAYAM l THURSDAY l APRIL 09, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION I-T DEPT TO CLEAR PENDING REFUNDS IMMEDIATELY The Income Tax department on Wednesday said it will release pending refunds totalling L18,000 crore immediately RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, TOO “It has been decided to issue all the pending income-tax refunds up to D5 lakh, immediately,” the finance ministry said. In a relief to around one lakh businesses including micro, small and medium enterprises, the ministry also decided to expedite all pending GST and Custom refunds. The move comes amid the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic ■ 14 lakh PAID EXCESS TAX? GOVT WILL RETURN IT ■ Refunds are a way by which the tax department returns excess tax collected from taxpayers (with interest) through advance tax, tax deducted at source etc compared to actual liability One can claim tax refund while filing the income tax return. There is no separate procedure to claim income tax refunds NUMBER OF TAXPAYERS WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE I-T DEPT’S MOVE 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 Lockdown extension? Social emergency, says Modi Narendra Modi holds video-conference meeting with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament, tells them restrictions may be extended; 80% leaders agree EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the Covid-19 pandemic has created a social emergency-like situation in the country and lifting the lockdown may not be desirable at this stage. Interacting with floor leaders of political parties in Parliament through video-conferencing on Wednesday, Modi said the world is currently facing grave challenges due to Covid-19 and “We must evolve to counter its impact.” The PM has already held similar virtual interaction with all chief ministers twice in the recent past. He will again meet the CMs on April 11 through video-conferencing where he is likely to unveil the roadmap to contain the pandemic as the 21day lockdown ends on April 14. In a two-minute video clip that surfaced on social media in the afternoon, Modi is heard telling the leaders that given the gravity of the ground situation there is no option but to continue with the lockdown. The video was allegedly leaked by one of the partici- FINAL CALL ON LOCKDOWN LIKELY ON APRIL 11 Modi will hold his third virtual meeting with all chief ministers on April 11, three days before the 21-day lockdown ends. Based on inputs from the CMs, the PM will decide whether the lockdown should continue ‘NO PATIENT FROM KERALA SHOULD GO TO MANGALURU’ IN a worrying turn of events, more than half of the nine people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Kerala on Wednesday are asymptomatic. An 11-yearold boy from Kannur, a Dubai returnee in Pathanamthitta, two persons in Alappuzha and a case in T hrissur are all asymptomatic. While expressing concern over a possible community spread, experts point towards a positive aspect — low mortality rate. “A good percentage of people who contracted the virus in the state are asymptomatic,” Rajendran Pilankatta, Dean of School of Medicine and Public Health in Central University of Kerala and an expert member of the Institute of Advanced Virology, Thiruvananthapuram, told TNIE. “A few of them have mild cough but never show any severe symptom. They are carriers, which is dangerous. If community transmission happens, we won’t be able to identify the primary contact if they are asymptomatic. Till now, we have seen extreme cases only in aged patients or patients with other health conditions,” said Rajendran. LAD funds for two years. “Suspension of the MPLAD will affect the development works at the grass root level,” said Sudeep Bandyopadhyay leader of , the TMC in the Lok Sabha, who also sought a financial moratorium for West Bengal. Leader of the DMK in Lok Sabha T R Baalu stressed on low testing numbers, while seeking the Central intervention to address the issue of inadequate PPEs. G O P I K A I S @ T’Puram SHE IS WRITHING in pain in the ambulance. Her cry can be heard on this end of the phone. A t 9 . 3 0 p m , t h e y h ave reached Thalappady the Kar, nataka-Kasaragod border. Fathima (name changed) and her husband Ashar Palackode were not on their way to a hospital in Mangaluru. They were fleeing the city . “I have called the Kasaragod district medical officer. He has arranged for administering drips in the town. She will need some painkillers too,” said Ashar. He was simultaneously speaking to TNIE on the phone and unsuccessfully trying to comfort his wife. “No one from Kerala should come to Mangaluru for treatment,” said Ashar, his morning hope razed in five hours. Fathima was the second patient to be allowed to seek treatment in Mangaluru. Only when they reached Thalappady they were told by officials of Dakshina Kannada administration that patients from Kerala could be treated only at KS Hedge Hospital, a 1,000-bedded medical college, at Deralakatte, on the outskirts of Mangaluru and 12km from Thalappady . Fathima had a complicated birthing in a hospital in Kanhangad. “She suffered blad- about a change in its work culture and working style. Modi assured them that the serious economic challenges would be overcome. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said 80% of the participants spoke in favour of extension of the lockdown period. A number of Opposition parties, including TMC, urged the Prime Minister to revoke the decision to suspend the MP- COMMUNITY SPREAD G E O R G E P O I K AY I L @ Kasaragod pants, which invited censure from the PMO which termed it unfortunate. “The country has been forced to take tough decisions, and must continue to remain vigilant. Several state gover nments, district administrations and experts have asked for extension of the phase of lockdown,” Modi told the political leaders. He added the country should simultaneously try to bring 9 108 ambulance pilot Harshith Kumar and nurse Justine at Thalappady. The vehicle ferries patients to Mangaluru Death of 5 cats causes flutter Kasaragod: The death of five felines caught from the Covid care centre in the General Hospital has created a flutter here. The Department of Animal Husbandry has done a postmortem examination on one of them and is planning to send its organs for testing. P4 der injury and the doctors there advised to remove her uterus because she was bleeding,” said Ashar. She was brought to Unity Hospital in Mangaluru, where she underwent a complicated surgery “Now there is severe . pain in her abdomen and she is bleeding,” he said. When the couple started from her house, they had fixed an appointment with their doctor in Unity . KERALA CASE DIARY new cases were reported on Wednesday 345 cases have been confirmed so far 259 under treatment 7-day complete lockdown has been announced in Munnar SC makes coronavirus tests free at private labs EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi CONCURRING with a petitioner that the price cap of `4,500 per coronavirus test in private labs was way too high, the the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that all government and approved private labs must offer the test free of cost. A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat ordered the Centre to issue necessary directions immediately “Private hospi. tals and laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis,” the bench said. Whether or not private labs offering free of cost Covid-19 tests are entitled to any reimbursement will be considered later, the bench added. The petition’s primary focus was on providing protective gear for medical and healthcare professionals involved in the treatment. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that the government is taking every measure to protect the medical professionals and healthcare workers. “Why don’t you create a mechanism at the district level where the district magistrate can arrange things, as the service sector is working from home. Their well being and mental health is also important,” observed the court. As of now, 118 government labs with a total capacity of 15,000 tests per day are functioning in India. Also, 47 private labs have been roped in. NATIONWIDE Asymptomatic cases a serious cause for worry Workshops, mobile phone shops to open Workshops repairing small and medium vehicles, including two wheelers, will be open on Sundays and Thursdays during the lockdown period. Mobile phone and computer accessories shops will function on Sundays. The government issued orders regarding them on Wednesday. 5,274 149 411 CONFIRMED CASES TOTAL DEATHS RECOVERED CASES World champs turn volunteers HANG ON, DEAR The sale of vegetables in general and cucumber in particular used to peak ahead of Vishu, but with the Covid scare and subsequent lockdown hitting the festival season, farmers do not exactly know what to do with their produce. Madhavan Kunnoth, a farmer from Balussery in Kozhikode, has decided to preserve cucumbers in traditional way and his granddaughter Thanmaya is assisting him | T P SOORAJ Now, mask must in UP, Delhi; hotspots sealed EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Lucknow/Mumbai 3-LAYER cloth mask recommended by UP. Can be made at home too The 20 hotspots include parts of East Delhi, Pandav Nagar, Khichdipur, Kishan Kunj, two societies in IP Extension area and Sadar. IN an apparent effort to ramp up the gains from the current spell of nationwide lockdown that ends on April 14, a few states and Union Territories on Wednesday imposed a complete ban on people stepping out of homes without face masks with immediate effect. However, Maharashtra selectively invoked the mask rule for Mumbai alone. It was Chandigarh that started the trend of making masks mandatory by issuing the , order on Tuesday . Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday issued a government order making it mandatory for every citizen to cover their face with a mask before stepping out of home for any reason. Similar orders were issued for Delhi as well. COURAGE OF CONVICTION I didn’t want to be carrier: Kerala girl who stayed back in Wuhan P R A M D A S @ Kochi AS WUHAN, where Covid-19 broke out, opened its streets for the public on Wednesday after a prolonged lockdown, the lone Malayali girl who stayed back in the Chinese city is smiling. It’s not just the joyful faces she sees all around that make her happy, but also her decision not to travel to India. “I thought I shouldn’t be a virus carrier to India,” Anila P Ajayan, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB), Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, told TNIE. “We can feel the happiness of people on the streets of Wuhan though everyone is very cautious,” said the native of Elavumthitta, Pathanamthitta. “The only noises I used to Wuhan’s story of togetherness should be appealing to the world. The people and authorities in the city fought Covid together. During the time of lockdown, medical teams visited every home in Wuhan to check people’s health status Anila Ajayan hear in Wuhan for more than three months were that of ambulance siren and radio messages in Chinese language. Most people whom I had met, including my professor, looked gloomy But now I can . feel the change. They are happy and calm. Roads have become busier, people have started singing. Students are coming back to IHB to resume their research,” said Anila. But restrictions are still in place for people who go out. Roads and other public places are still being cleaned using disinfectants. To use public transport, one needs to have a Green Health Code. And those who want to go for shopping need to undergo thermal screening. If one’s temperature is above 37.2 degree Celsius, then he/ she is not allowed to enter shops. Morning sessions in shops are reserved for the el● More on P4 derly . World Cup-winning Belgium men’s hockey team joined an initiative called Covid-Solidarity. Thomas Briels and Co. will be a part of a call centre to coordinate between on-field workers and isolated people. P11 STATES ON A BORROWING SPREE J&K 800 800 8.15 Punjab 2,600 1,600 6.83 Himachal Pradesh 700 0 NA Uttarakhand 1,000 1,000 7.85 Haryana 5,000 5,000 8 Arunachal Pradesh 400 400 8 Assam 500 500 8 Nagaland 200 200 8 Rajasthan 3,500 2,750 7.5 Gujarat 2,509 2,080 7.73 Madhya Pradesh 5,000 5,000 5.91 Manipur 200 200 8 Odisha 1,000 1,000 6.31 Goa 100 100 7.88 Maharashtra 5,000 5,000 7.83 Karnataka 2,000 2,000 7.8 Kerala 6,000 6,000 8.32 Andhra Pradesh 3,000 1,000 7.9 Tamil Nadu 2,000 2,000 7.75 TOTAL: Amount notified: `37,500 crore Amount raised: K32,560 crore Amount notified (`cr) Amount raised (`cr) Average interest rate (%) The risk of fiscal slippage is expected to be higher for states, which have a larger number of Covid-19 patients, as they may have to significantly ramp up spending on health-related services to contain this outbreak Jayanta Roy, group head - corporate sector rating, ICRA Pandemic may bring states to their knees S U N I T H A N AT T I @ Hyderabad INDIAN states are seeing their most unlucky moment in 2020. Finances are already under the weather thanks to lower GST and own tax collections. With the Covid-19 pandemic, just like households, states appear ill-prepared for the new reality of falling income and rising expenses. And most irksome, perhaps, is the pressure to perform. Analysts expect higher debt and strained balance sheets given that the only way out of the pandemic is for local governments to spend on free food, cash transfers and maybe even loan waivers if the pandemic worsens. “There could be a large supply of G-Sec bonds and state development loans this fiscal primarily because of subdued revenue collections. Though gover nments are reducing staff salaries including that of MPs, it’s unlikely to compensate for the entire revenue shortfall,” Nikhil Gupta of Mo- tilal Oswal told TNIE. Low revenue leaves states with the only option to borrow more. In lockstep, the government on March 23 gave a free hand for states to raise up to `3.2 lakh crore from the open market, an unusually high amount compared to the states’ current quarter borrowing calendar of `1.4 lakh crore. RBI, too, raised limits for managing temporary cash flows by 30% for states besides increasing overdraft facility to 21 days from 14. India already has the highest sub-national debt among BRICS nations and states’ borrowing limits have touched the brim owing to Uday bond issuances and high expenditure due to farm loan waivers and 7th Pay Commission payout. Though market borrowings have always been a critical component, their reliance has been dangerously rising. For instance, if states financed 53% of their gross fiscal deficit from borrowings between FY02 and FY17, it shot up to 88% in FY20. CONTINUED ON: P10
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