VILLUPURAM 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 `18,000 crore immediately RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, TOO “It has been decided to issue all the pending income-tax refunds up to `5 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 Corporates can donate to CM relief fund EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE State gover nment on Wednesday appealed to the corporates and other establishments to contribute liberally to the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund towards measures to prevent spread of COVID-19, since donations will be treated as funds spent towards CSR. Besides, the companies can avail tax exemption too. An official release said corporations have sought clarity whether contributions to the above fund would be treated as a CSR activity refer, ring to the circular of Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs. THE number of fresh COVID-19 cases in the State went up by 48 on Wednesday taking the , total tally up to 738. Officials say 42 of the cases reported on Wednesday are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi. Meanwhile, the number of people who have recovered and discharged from hospital went up to 21. Of the total 738 cases, 679 are linked to the Delhi event -- 553 who attended the event and 105 of their contacts; 7 foreign nationals and 14 of their contacts. Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said the test results of 344 persons linked to the Delhi event are still being processed. In a peculiar case, a 23-year old Salem woman test- 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- 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. 48 new COVID-19 cases take State’s tally to 738 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai 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 @ Chennai ed positive on Wednesday, while three of her family members who had attended the Delhi event tested negative. Meanwhile, officials have taken 550 samples from people with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) across the State. Of them, only three tested positive for the virus. All three of them have a contact history said Beela Rajesh. , “So far, four doctors in the State were infected with the virus. Of all patients under treatment in the State, five are sick with symptoms while others are stable,” she added. Meanwhile, the death of a 45-year-old man due to COVID-19 on Tuesday has triggered panic in Vellore city The man, . who died at the CMC, had no travel history . NATIONWIDE 5,274 149 411 CONFIRMED CASES TOTAL DEATHS RECOVERED CASES World champs turn volunteers CIRCLE OF LIFE A COVID-19 artwork with messages about the importance of social distancing, conveyed in a ‘T.Rajendaresque’ style, along with circles for shoppers to maintain a safe distance when they step out to fetch essentials, painted at Villivakkam bus depot in Chennai | R SATISH BABU NOW, MASK MUST IN U.P, DELHI; HOTSPOTS SEALED 20 DELHI AREAS SEALED The 20 hotspots include parts of East Delhi, Pandav Nagar, Khichdipur, Kishan Kunj, two societies in IP Extension area and Sadar in Central Delhi. In all these areas, people will not be allowed to step out of h ome. Essential supplies will be provided at the doorstep 3 DISTRICTS IN M.P. TOO Hotspots in Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain sealed with immediate effect UP heat map EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE A look at the number of hotspots in 15 UP districts that have been sealed till April 15 morning 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 Meerut 7 @ New Delhi/Lucknow/Mumbai Ghaziabad 13 Shamli 3 Bareilly 1 Gautam Budh Nagar 12 Sitapur 1 Lucknow 8 big, 4 small Saharanpur 4 Maharajganj 4 Bulandshahr 3 Agra 22 Firozabad 3 Basti 3 Kanpur 12 Varanasi 4 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. face with a mask before stepping out of home for any reason. Similar orders were issued for Delhi as well. “Wearing of facial masks can reduce the spread of coronavirus substantially. Therefore, it has been decided that facial masks will be compulsory for anyone stepping out of their house. Cloth mask shall be eligible too,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. In UP, failure to put on a mask would attract a penalty 3-LAYER cloth mask recommended by UP govt. Can be made at home too under the Epidemic Act 1897 and UP Epidemic Disease (Covid-19) Manual 2020, the details of which are being worked out, Additional Chief Secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi said. The state has already started manufacturing masks, with 48 units working on it as well as personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. In J&K, wearing face masks has been made mandatory in the Civil Secretariat, while Ladakh imposed it in the entire Leh district. Mumbai is among the biggest coronavirus hotspots, as 642 of the total 1,018 infected in the state live in the country’s commercial capital. The city has also recorded 40 fatalities. P8 Health staff discharge 4 COVID-19 patients ‘by mistake’; 1 missing B A G A L A V A N P E R I E R @ Villupuram HEALTH officials in Villupuram are in a soup, as four of the 26 patients they discharged on Tuesday have now tested positive for COVID-19. While three of them have been brought back for treatment, the police and officials are unable to locate one person. Officials say that 46 people were shifted to the Health Manpower Development Institute in Villupuram after they tested negative. However, it later turned out that four persons had tested positive. Immediately three of , them were brought back to the hospital. Only a 30-year-old man from Delhi, who had come to Puducherry in December to attend a job interview, is missing. Incidentally, the missing man was arrested a few months back over an accident, in which he allegedly endangered the lives of three persons. He was released on March 16, and sources say he was hanging around with truck drivers in Villupuram, hoping to hitch a ride back to Delhi with them. His efforts did not bear fruit as the lockdown paralysed truck movement in the region. He reportedly stayed with a few truck drivers in the meantime. It was the police who admitted the man at Villupuram GH, as he had symptoms of the viral infection. “He was discharged Tuesday because of some confusion among the health workers,” the police said. Three police teams have been formed now to find the man. Cops in the neighbouring districts of Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, Kallakurichi, Tiruvannamalai, and Vellore and Puducherry have been alerted.Villupuram Health de par tment of ficials were not available for comments, despite repeated phone calls. They initially told media that the person escaped from hospital, but later police clarified that he had been mistakenly discharged. Meanwhile, police identified the truck drivers who the man was in contact with, and have placed them in isolation. HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS CONCERNED As the personal details and photograph of the missing Covid 19 positive person was released on social media byPuducherry police, activists worried that it may be a threat to the person, as public may attack him 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 Haryana 5,000 5,000 8 Rajasthan 3,500 2,750 7.5 Himachal Pradesh 700 0 NA Uttarakhand Nagaland 1,000 1,000 7.85 200 200 8 Arunachal Pradesh 400 400 8 Assam 500 500 8 Gujarat 2,509 2,080 7.73 Madhya Pradesh 5,000 5,000 5.91 Maharashtra 5,000 5,000 7.83 Karnataka 2,000 2,000 7.8 Kerala 6,000 6,000 8.32 Manipur 200 200 8 Odisha 1,000 1,000 6.31 Goa 100 100 7.88 Andhra Pradesh 3,000 1,000 7.9 Tamil Nadu 2,000 2,000 7.75 TOTAL: Amount notified: `37,500 crore Amount raised: `32,560 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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09042020 of The New Indian Express-Villupuram
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