CHENNAI THURSDAY MAY 14, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 16 LATE CITY EDITION SC RELAXES DRESS CODE FOR LAWYERS AMID PANDEMIC The Supreme Court has asked lawyers not to wear coats and long gowns during hearings through video-conferencing ‘LONG GOWNS EASIER TO CATCH VIRUS’ The notification, issued on Wednesday evening, came hours after Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said such dresses should not be donned as they make it easier to ‘catch virus’. It said advocates may wear plain white-shirt / white-salwar-kameez / white saree, along with a plainwhite neck band till medical exigencies exist or until further orders ■ March 25 VIRTUAL HEARINGS DURING LOCKDOWN Earlier in the day, the CJI and Justices Indu Malhotra and Hrishikesh Roy were not wearing their coat and gowns when they assembled for the hearing through video-conferencing The benches usually assemble at the residences of judges with lawyers joining the video-conferencing from their home / office ■ SINCE WHEN SC HAS BEEN HEARING CASES THROUGH VIDEO-CONFERENCING 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 MSMES NOW GET BIG L3 L-CRORE LOAN WINDOW Small units get new definition; global tender norm dropped for purchases below `200 cr A N U R A D H A S H U K L A @ New Delhi A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a `20 lakh crore package to combat the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday chose to unveil the first tranche, starting with a slew of relief measures for small businesses, shadow banks, power companies and realtors. The announcements include collateral-free loan worth `3 lakh crore, which the government claims will benefit 45 lakh units, subordinated debt provision of `20,000 crore and revising MSME definition and `90,000 crore capital infusion in power distribution firms. These measures were eagerly awaited by smaller businesses reeling under uncertainty following the nearly two-month nationwide lockdown. Said N R Bhanumurthy pro, fessor at National Institute of Public Finance & Policy, “The MSME sector certainly needed help, but most of the help seems will be channelled through banks, in most cases PSU banks … not through a government stimulus.” The government also announced `30,000 crore special liquidity scheme for non-bank- ing financial companies, microfinance firms and housing finance companies. Plus, another `45,000 crore liquidity infusion through a partial credit guarantee scheme for NBFCs and `50,000 crore equity infusion through fund of funds for MSMEs to help these units expand capacity . However, economists feel these may not help counteract the economy’s shrinking. “The main problem is demand creation,” noted Bhanumurthy . In the case of collateralfree loans, Sitharaman said these would have a four-year tenure with a moratorium of 12 months on principal repayment while the interest will be capped. “The envisaged support of full credit guarantees to the lower rated NBFC and HFC entities will restore stability in financial markets and could act as a clear enabling factor for compressing credit spreads,” said Rajnish Kumar, chairman, SBI. To encourage participation of MSMEs in government procurement programme, the FM said global tenders will not be allowed for government contracts up to `200 crore. “How will MSMEs function if all the labourers have returned home? There should have been some announcement NATIONWIDE ACTIVE CASES CURED / DISCHARGED DEATHS 47,480 24,385 2,415 Re-purposed drug trial to happen at nine sites EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Indian Council of Medical Research has approved nine hospitals in various cities for a solidarity trial sought by the World Health Organization (WHO) to test the efficacy of repurposed drugs in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. The study that will be done on 1,500 patients who are severely or moderately sick with novel coronavirus, will see them being administered either of the following: (a) Remdesivir; (b) Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine; (c) Lopinavir-Ritonavir; (d) Lopinavir-Ritonavir with Interferon; and (e) standard of care without any of these medicines, so as to compare their results with that of the others. The development came on a day when US pharma major Gilead signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five pharma companies in India and Pakistan to manufacture Remdesivir. The companies are Cipla, Hetero Labs, Jubilant Lifesciences, Mylan and Ferozsons Labs. In all, over 100 countries have come together for the global trial launched by the WHO to assess which drug or drug combination offers better treatment. Enrolling patients in multiple countries enhances both speed and scale of the clinical trial. “We have approved the trials at nine sites as of now but the overall number could reach 20-30 in a few weeks,” Dr Sheela Godbole, a scientist with the ICMR and head of the trial project told this newspaper. In India, anti-malaria drug Hydroxycholoroquine along with antibiotic Azithromycin has already been recommended as part of ICMR’s clinical management guideline for Covid-19 patients in ICU despite reservations by bio-ethicists and limited evidence of its efficacy against Covid so far. The government has also suggested Hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis to people at the higher risk of contracting the infection. There are some reports of prescribing the drug indiscriminately to people in densely populated areas such as Dharavi in Mumbai. PM-CARES FUND FOR MIGRANTS, VENTILATORS Some clarity emerged on the expenditure of the funds pooled into the PM-CARES Trust on Wednesday, as `2,000 crore from it will be spent on purchase of ventilators, `1,000 crore for care of migrant labourers and `100 crore to support Covid vaccine development, the the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Collateral-free loans Emergency credit line from banks up to 20% of the MSME’s outstanding credit Borrowers with up to `25 crore outstanding and L100 crore turnover are eligible for the scheme Loans to have four-year tenor with 12-month moratorium on principal repayment The first scoring shot The first stimulus tranche had six different measures for MSMEs; three on tax; two on EPF; two on NBFCs, housing finance companies and microfinance institutions; one each on power discoms, contractors and real estate Govt’s EPF payment support for employers and employees extended till August L20,000 crore subordinated debt for stressed MSMEs L50,000 crore equity infusion for MSMEs through Fund of Funds Pending govt payments to MSMEs to be released in 45 days PFC/REC to infuse L90,000 crore to discoms against receivables Relief to realty sector as Covid-19 to be treated as an event of ‘Force Majeure’ under RERA In relief to contractors, Railways, road and highways contracts to be extended by up to six months Interest to be capped, no collateral or guarantee fee needed 100% credit guarantee cover to banks and NBFCs on principal and interest Scheme can be availed till Oct 31, 2020 MSME definition tweaked INVESTMENT LIMITS FOR FIRMS TO BE CLASSIFIED MSME HAVE BEEN HIKED Micro : From `25 lakh to `1 cr Small : From `5 cr to `10 cr Medium : From `10 cr to `20 cr NEW TURNOVER CRITERIA Micro : Up to `5 cr Small : Up to `50 cr Medium : Up to `100 cr DUE DATE OF ALL INCOME-TAX RETURNS FOR FY20 EXTENDED TO NOV 30 25% cut in TDS rate for nonsalary payments `200 crore Govt purchases up to `200 crore only from domestic firms The `20 lakh crore economic stimulus package is a vision laid by PM Narendra Modi after wide consultation with every section of the society and will make the country self-reliant - Nirmala Sitharaman, FM 509 new cases, 3 deaths in TN; EPS allays fears about rising tally EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE TAMIL NADU recorded 509 COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Wednesday taking the tally to 9,277 and toll to 64. Once again, Chennai recorded most of the cases — 380. With the three deaths, toll in Chennai increased from 39 (including two deaths that were cross notified to other States) to 42. “There is no need to fear,” assured Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. “Experts say the spread of infection will come down after an initial spurt, and this is evident from what has been happening across the globe,” he said while addressing District Collectors via video conference. “All those who have tested positive will recover soon.” Later, attributing the spike in cases in Chennai to the adamant attitude of traders at Koyambedu in shifting their trade to a temporary market, he dismissed as baseless the allegations that the infection spread owing to the government not taking appropriate action. Thanking all frontline workers, Palaniswami point600 “The decision to changing the definition of MSMEs will certainly help them grow, and benefit larger number of firms,” said Partha Chatterjee, Dean of International Partnerships, professor and head, Department of Economics, Shiv P10 Nadar University . Positive cases Discharged 400 324 300 0 ed out that Tamil Nadu was carrying out the maximum number of tests compared to other States. “Mortality rate in Tamil Nadu is the lowest in the country (0.67 per cent), and recovery rate stands at 27 per cent. The highest number of labs are also functioning in the State. If people strictly adhere to the restrictions for the lockdown, the spread can be checked,” he said. Meanwhile, a media bulletin released on Wednesday identified the deceased as a 41-year-old man with diabetes mellitus admitted to Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, a 43-year-old man with diabetes mellitus referred from a private hospital to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), and a 48-year-old man with systemic hypertension admitted to the same hosP3 pital. 266 279 509 538 510 399 316 279 380 171 200 100 Edappadi K Palaniswami, CM CHENNAI REPORT CARD 500 for the rural sector,” said Prof Bishwajit Dhar of the JNU. The government also redefined the MSME industry’s parameters to allow more investment and introduced a turnover criterion to make it easier for firms to avail cheap credit meant for the sector. Infection spread will come down after an initial spurt and this is evident from what is happening across the globe. There is no need to fear @ Chennai 17 May 4 52 11 9 May 6 35 May 8 94 67 May 10 43 0 May 12 May 13 May 4 May 5 May 6 May 7 May 8 May 9 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 12,780 SAMPLES TESTED NUMBER OF CASES Number of deaths Chennai Chengalpattu Ariyalur Cuddalore Kancheepuram Karur Madurai Nagapattinam Perambalur Thanjavur Theni Tiruvallur Tiruvannamalai Thoothukudi Tirunelveli Villupuram Airport quarantine 1 1 1 5 3 22 cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 20 have recovered. Fifteen patients with kidney issues, two with HIV and two others with liver disease have also recovered TOLL IN CITY 2 2 1 380 25 4 17 4 2 2 2 1 1 5 25 23 1 5 7 3 4 3 7 Over 1,000 patients were treated at Rajiv Gandhi Govt General Hospital. Among them, 60% were diabetic and 40% had high blood pressure Green nod for desal plant in Gulf of Mannar Gadkari echoes Trump, says it’s lab-grown virus S V K R I S H N A C H A I TA N YA @ Chennai EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE IN a move that is likely to threaten marine biodiversity, the Union Environment Ministry has allowed a proposal to set up a desalination plant near the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. The project, which will produce 60 million litres of water per day (MLD), is just 25 metres away from the park. Environmentalists fear brine discharged from the plant could affect the sensitive ecosystem. However, officials say the plant will use a new technology to increase the recovery rate of drinking water to 64 per cent from the current 45 per cent and reduce the brine discharge from 98.42 MLD to 42 MLD. Most of the brine will be collected in artificial lagoons or P4 used for salt production. @ New Delhi TRAVELLING CATTLE CLASS Migrants ride a truck to reach their native places, during the ongoing lockdown, in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura on Wednesday | PTI RLYS PUTS ONUS ON STATE GOVTS Tamil Nadu offers paid quarantine for returnees B A N B U S E LV A N @ Chennai WITH the onus to quarantine returnees falling on State governments, those coming back to Tamil Nadu will henceforth have the option of isolating themselves in a hotel. About 550 passengers returning to Chennai from New Delhi by the Rajdhani special train will be the first to be offered this optional paid facility. The decision was taken after there were complaints of inadequate facilities at government-run centres. “The returnees can quarantine themselves for 14 days in a hotel or government shelter, until PCR tests are conducted,” a government official said. “Those opting for paid quarantine can choose from hotels, ranging between `700 and `2,500 a day. The list of hotels under the programme and the rent are being finalised.” Those who cannot afford the paid quarantine can still use the Corporation shelters. According to official sources, over 1.17 lakh natives of Tamil Nadu are stranded in other States, and have registered to return home. In addition, about 65,000 Tamils are stranded abroad. The decision was also taken be- STATE TAKES UP RESPONSIBILITY The State had asked railways to quarantine passengers on their return. But, it decided to arrange the facilities when the railways turned down its request. cause it’s impossible to quarantine all returnees at government facilities. At present, as many as 4,401 patients have been quarantined at hospitals and more than 35,000 at government-run shelters. Earlier, the government asked the railways not to operate any trains to Chennai. However, the railways allowed for booking of train tickets between Chennai and New Delhi. Sources said the Rajdhani special is likely to get cancelled after its second run on May 15. UNION Road Transport and MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the coronavirus was not a natural virus but lab-grown, a view articulated by US President Donald Trump to attack China for the spread of the pandemic. Asked by a TV channel about how the government plans to bring back the lakhs of migrant workers who have headed to their native places, Gadkari said, “this is the most important challenge, to create self-confidence is very important. There is a fear in the mind of the people. We have to understand the art of living with corona. This is not a natural virus. It is an artificial virus.” This is not the first time he made such a comment. On Tuesday, in a separate interview, he said: “This coronavirus is an artificial virus, prepared in the laboratory . This is not a natural virus. That is the reason why our medical experts and scientists don’t have any solution for it. They never expected it.” Trump has often alleged that it originated at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology and not in the city’s wet market. On Wednesday Chinese For, eign Minister Wang Yi, at the SCO conference, urged member-states to reject attempts to politicise the response and label the virus. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar participated in the meet.
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