CHENNAI l TUESDAY l APRIL 28, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION ICMR’S SIDE OF THE STORY 1 ICMR identifies two companies, Biomedemics and Wondfo, with international certifications, for procurement of rapid antibody test kits 2 For Wondfo, evaluation committee got 4 bids with `1,204, `1,200, `844 and `600 as price quotes. It picked `600 offer on top of the list 3 ICMR also tries to procure kits directly from Wondfo. But quotation received for direct procurement had the various issues 4 Quotation did not have commitment on logistics; was on 100% direct advance without guarantees; rates in US dollars without any clause on price fluctuation 5 So, ICMR approached Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India, who quoted an all inclusive Free on Board (logistics) price without advance payment 6 After receipt of supplies, ICMR conducts quality checks on the kits in field conditions. Wondfo and another supplier Livzon’s kits found under-performing, orders cancelled 7 Since ICMR did not opt for procurement with 100% advance payment, the govt will not lose even a single rupee AMID INFLATED COST ROW, GOVT NIXES CHINESE TEST KITS ORDER S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE Centre on Monday asked states to return the rapid antibody testing kits for Covid-19 distributed to them while making it official that the kits procured from two Chinese companies have been found faulty , and that the orders have been cancelled. The decision came following a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan and the head of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava, said sources. The development comes even as a massive controversy has broken out over the pricing at which the ICMR under the Union health ministry had struck the deal to procure 5.5 lakh kits at `600 each. “Several states have procured rapid antibody kits and on their demand, ICMR has also provided these kits with clear instructions that they are to be used only for surveillance purpose,” a letter issued by the ICMR to states said. “Some states have raised is- sues regarding their performance during the testing exercise that they have undertaken. ICMR thereafter has also evaluated the kits from Guang- `400 Valuation fixed by the Delhi High Court last week for the test kit zhou Wondfo and Livzon in field conditions. The results have shown wide variation in their sensitivity despite early promise of good performance for surveillance,” it added. A legal dispute in Delhi High Court between the distributor and importer of rapid test kits exposed their purported profiteering in kits sold to the Indian government. Observing that 61% mark-up on such test kits is on the “higher side” but “more than sufficient”, the court disallowed a 145% profit from the landed price of `245 to ICMR’s purchase price of `600 per test and slashed it to `400. The health ministry in a de, tailed clarification on Monday , explained why it decided to go to Wondfo’s exclusive distribu- tor for India for the kit and the problems it found (see box). The Centre said this was the first-ever effort by any Indian agency to procure such kits and the rate quoted by the bidders was the only reference point. ICMR has not made any payment, said the ministry, and the government does not stand to lose a single rupee. 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 Economy to get more breathing space Modi indicates reviving economy is a priority; extended lockdown in hotspot areas likely However, travel by trains, inter-state bus, and air may not WHILE the demand for extend- be possible soon after May 3 as ing the ongoing lockdown many states are still not ready . found resonance at the videoThe PM also flagged a word conference Narendra Modi had of caution on the return of peowith chief ministers on Mon- ple from overseas, saying, it day, the Prime Minister indi- has to be done keeping in mind cated that the need to revive the the fact that they don’t get ineconomy should not be lost convenienced and their famisight of. “We have to give im- lies aren’t under any risk. portance to economy as well as “As per experts, the impact continue fight against Cov- of coronavirus will remain visid-19,” Modi said. ible in the coming months. UnEven the current der the circumstanclockdown ends on es, everyone’s aims May 3, the restricmust be rapid retions are likely to sponse. We have to continue in Covid-19 give importance to hotspots as many economy as well. states favoured extenWe’ve to be brave and sion to stifle the vibring in reforms that rus. Odisha, Goa, touch the lives of the Meghalaya and a few 9 CMs spoke common man,” Modi other states suggesttold the chief during ed that restrictions ministers. interaction continue for another The PM urged Under the format month, sources said. states to tur n red Lifting economy of the interaction, zones into orange and only 9 CMs made will be a major thrust g reen with rapid d u r i n g t h e n e x t presentations; the containment. phase. The Centre others were asked Sources said the may allow industries in advance by PMO Centre and states are to start functioning to submit written on the same page on submissions on in a gradual manner, aggressive containtheir issues while the plan for the ment strategy for unorganised sector is hotspots, which still being ironed out. Accord- may remain under locking to sources, the Union home down for most of the ministry is working on a larger next month. basket of relaxations for the With states bracing functioning of the economy . to help people stranded While most CMs did not want elsewhere to retur n to open their borders, they home, Bihar CM Nitish were okay with graded resump- Kumar highlighted the magtion of economic activities. nitude of the exercise. The Some CMs such as Jairam states, sources said, called Thakur of Himachal Pradesh upon the Centre to devise a unibatted for full-fledged economic form policy on the return of activities in regions unaffected stranded migrants to their naby the novel coronavirus. tive places. P5,7,8,9,10 RBI opens `50,000 crore lifeline for troubled MFs EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Hyderabad M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi CM Edappadi K Palaniswami during the interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday | SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT EPS seeks additional funds, test kits from Central govt E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately allocate `1,000 crore to the State from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to procure medical and protective materials and another `1,321 crore Custom Milled Rice (CMR) subsidy to facilitate paddy procurement. During the consultative meeting called by the Prime Minister with chief ministers of the States and Union Territories on Monday Modi spoke with those who had not spoken in earlier , meetings. Due to paucity of time, the remaining CMs were requested to fax their suggestions to the Prime Minister. Following this, Palaniswami sent his suggestions in which he elaborated the measures taken by the State government to contain the outbreak and treat the infected persons. Palaniswami also urged Modi to allow payment of wages in cash to MGNREGS workers. The CM suggested that the wages could be distributed in cash by panchayat secretaries, to help the poor during lockdown and to prevent crowding at banks. Explaining the State government’s efforts at the time of issuing the statement, he said, “As on date, 87,605 samples have been tested and 1,885 persons found positive. Effective treatment in the State has ensured that death rate is only 1.2 per cent and 1,020 patients are discharged which works out to be an encouraging 54 per cent.” Elaborating on the testing scenario, Palaniswami stated that at present the State has 30 government and 11 private labs, with a total capacity of 7,500 tests per day The State is planning to . increase it by 10,000 per day for which he requested the Centre , to supply more PCR test kits. P4 CM’S REQUEST TO MODI `1,000 cr Grant from the NDRF to procure medical supplies and protective equipment CMR SUBSIDY OF `1,321 cr Release of GST compensation for December-January CM’s Public Relief Fund may be made eligible to receive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contribution Payment of GST Advance Tax and IT may be deferred for six months Seeks more kits as State planning to increase testing to 10,000 per day 4.5% Revision of fiscal deficit limits from the current 3% of GSDP to 4.5% for the 2019-20 and 202021 fiscals 50% Permission for additional borrowing of 33% above the permitted level for 2019-20 fiscal Release of the Finance Commission grants to Urban and Rural Local bodies for 2020-21 THE Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday rode to the rescue of mutual funds, which are facing a severe fund crunch, by opening a special liquidity window of `50,000 crore for MFs. The move will ease pressure on mutual funds, whose liquidity stress got further intensified due to volatility in capital markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The exclusive window comes days after F r a n k l i n Te m p l e t o n winded down six active mutual funds setting off alarm bells across the industry RBI . said the liquidity strains have intensified amid redemption pressures due to the closure of some debt MFs and potential contagious effects. The banking regulator’s special liquidity facility for mutual funds (SLF-MF) will be available till May 11 or up EXPRESS READ 3 IRS officers charged with creating panic among taxpayers New Delhi: Three IRS officials — Sanjay Bahadur (principal director investigation, northeast region), Prakash Dubey (director DOPT) and Prashant Bhushan (principal commissioner, Delhi) — have been chargesheeted for violating service rules and relieved of their charges. They played a key role in preparing a report which proposed income tax hike, creating widespread panic | P10 Fresh cases reported from only 3 TN dists EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai RISK ON RISE Thousands flocked to Koyambedu to stock up vegetables on Saturday, ahead of the four-day-long ‘intense lockdown’ | MARTIN LOUIS EVEN as the State confirmed 52 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the tally to 1,937, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar announced that the government would return the new rapid antibody or serological tests kits purchased from China, after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) asked all States to do so. Among the fresh cases, Chennai alone reported 47, taking the total number of cases in the capital district to 570. Incidently a man used to distribute food , to migrant labourers and beggars in Triplicane tested positive on Sunday. Subsequently, samples were taken from around 30 police personnel and volunteers. In another case, one more journalist of a private TV channel in Chennai has tested positive. Meanwhile, in a slight relief to officials, cases were reported only from three districts — Chennai, Madurai (4) and Villupuram (1) —on Monday Also, . 81 people were discharged on the day . Cases in Koyambedu market Discussions are being held to decide whether to allow operations of Koyambedu market, after two persons in contact with traders tested positive and four other suspected to have contracted the virus. Official sources told Express that initially two persons — a saloon owner near the market and a coriander trader, who visited TA M I L N A D U T O TA L 1,937 1,101 24 809 CONFIRMED CASES RECOVERED DEATHS ACTIVE CASES the market — tested positive. According to the official bulletin, among the 7,176 samples tested, 52 samples turned positive on Monday Number of per. sons tested on Monday was 6,753. “Till date, 94,781 samples have been taken, among them 1,937 persons tested positive and 83,021 samples tested negative. Testing of 1,381 samples are under process and 8,442 samples are repeat samples.” The Inter-Ministerial Central Team visited various key places in the city for the third day on Monday They also con. sulted the CM at the Secretariat. EPILEPSY DRUG Good Samaritans on social media help deliver life-saving medicine K V N A V YA @ Chennai Amid a lockdown and with social distancing becoming the norm, chances of finding a good Samaritan are higher on social media than on the streets. In an interesting chain of events, Twitter helped a man from Chennai procure a lifesaving drug for the two-year- old daughter of his friend*, from Bengaluru. The donor was Shankar Raman, father of girl using the same medicine. Two days ago, Debasis Nayak in Chennai was struggling to find the drug Sabril (Vigabatrin), prescribed for epilepsy, for his friend’s daughter. An imported medicine, it has no alternative available in India. Meanwhile, the child’s seizures were increasing and doctors warned it could prove fatal. That was when Debasis decided to approach a senior IPS officer from Odisha, Arun Bothra, who had previously helped transport camel milk from Rajasthan to a child in Mumbai with severe food allergies. Debasis said he had only a faint hope when he contacted the IPS officer. “I sent a Twitter message to him on Sunday and he immediately replied saying we would have to first find out where the medicine was available. Rlys transports drug To make sure that a cancer patient got life-saving drug, the Southern Railway delivered a package for the relative of one Vadivelu of Chidambaram. This was done through the Southern Railway’s SETU-SR initiative However, the drug was available nowhere in India. So we decided to draft a tweet and post it through the IPS officer’s Twitter handle to see if anybody had it.” The response was overwhelming, said Arun Bothra. “People started sharing the tweet and we found three responses to be helpful.” P5 to utilisation of the allocated amount, whichever is earlier. Banks can draw funds from RBI’s SLF-MF scheme to meet the liquidity requirements of mutual funds by extending loans to them. Banks can also make outright purchase of investmentgrade corporate bonds, commercial papers, debentures and certificates of deposit held by mutual funds. Under SLF-MF, RBI would conduct repo operations of 90-days tenor at fixed repo rate, while the SLFMF itself will be on-tap and open-ended, and banks can submit their bids to avail of funding on any day from Monday to Friday . RBI said it will review the timeline and amount depending on market conditions. The central bank reiterated that it is committed to mitigating economic risks arising from Covid-19 and it is constantly monitoring all segments and sectors to minimise stress. INTERVIEW Let migrants go home: Jean Drèze EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PREVENTING migrant labourers from returning to their native villages during the ongoing lockdown will have an adverse impact, cautions noted economist, author and social activist Jean Drèze, in an interview with TNIE Editor G S Vasu. The aftermath could be much worse in poor states like Jharkhand and Bihar, because the labourers would be wary of going back to their workplaces for sometime even after the situation improves, since their lockdown experience was particularly torrid, he points out. Going forward, while he expects labour shortage in s t at e s l i ke Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra, he predicts surplus surplus labour in states like Bihar and Jharkhand as they would refuse to migrate. “This is going to create a crisis of livelihood... I think the longer we hold them captive and prevent them from moving back, the more is going to be their reluctance to migrate again later on, and more serious is going to be the economic crisis,” he warns. He suggests sending them back home in a staggered way since plenty of empty buses and trains are now available. Explaining the concept of food transfer, he says: “Right now, it is the food transfers, especially the PDS, that is keeping millions alive and secure from hunger.” Q&A: P7
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