G SATYANARAYANA CHENNAI l TUESDAY l MAY 19, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION ODISHA, WEST BENGAL BRACE FOR SUPER CYCLONE ‘AMPHAN’ Efforts were continuing on Monday to evacuate people from risky areas before the cyclone makes landfall on Wednesday EXTENSIVE DAMAGE LIKELY IN WEST BENGAL Amphan will bring heavy winds of up to 195 kmph velocity when it makes the landfall on the West Bengal coast. The cyclone is expected to cause extensive damage to life and property in the state’s coastal districts. The state government has set up over 300 multi-purpose cyclone centres and efforts are on to evacuate more than one lakh people in Sunderbans alone COVID-19 ADDS TO THE HEADACHE ■ Coastal districts of Odisha are also likely to face the super cyclone’s fury. The state has made arrangements to evacuate 11 lakh people from low-lying areas of its coastal districts. In both states, the authorities are making efforts to ensure social distancing at shelter homes in light of the Covid-19 pandemic P5 1999 WAS THE LAST TIME WHEN A SUPER CYLONE HIT ODISHA 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 Worst-ever recession stares at India’s face Goldman Sachs warns GDP will contract by 45% in June quarter; national output is estimated to shrink by `7.3 lakh crore in 2020-21 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE SNAKES AND LADDERS Serpentine queues of migrant families under the scorching sun, some of them about half-km long, at the Ramlila Maidan in Ghaziabad on Monday for passes to board six special trains to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Others seen queuing up before buses hoping for a drop at the Ghaziabad railway station. The bus service was not provided | PTI EPS rues over Centre’s ‘power’ game EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai OPPOSING the Centre’s move to put forth “needlessly onerous” conditions for increasing the borrowing limits of States, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday shot off a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that the move lacked consensus and was not in keeping with the spirit of cooperative federalism. One of the riders of the Centre to States to increase their borrowing limit was discontinuation of free electricity to farmers. The Centre had asked States to switch to Direct Benefit Transfer instead. Writing to PM Modi in this regard, Palaniswami reiterated that the mode of disbursing subsidy for free power should be left to the prero g ative of State governments. Referring to the communication dated May 17 from the Union Ministry of Finance, which attached conditions for increasing the borrowing limits, the Chief Minister said, “Imposing needlessly onerous conditions on borrowing will constrain States in finding funds to meet essential expenditure in the wake of a serious financial situation. I am confident you will appreciate and understand the difficulties that States face at this time and instruct that necessary changes be made to relevant guidelines.” Reminding the Centre of the ethos of cooperative federalism, the CM said the reform agenda, on which a consensus is yet to be made, is being pushed at a time when States are battling the pandemic. P3 Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday conducting a review meeting on releasing water from Mettur Dam for Cauvery Delta farmers After 8 yrs, Mettur Dam to open on customary date The Mettur Dam will be opened on June 12, the customary date, after a gap of eight years. CM Edappadi K Palaniswami made this announcement after a high-level meeting on Monday. “As on date, the storage level in Mettur dam is 100.01 feet (64.85 tmcft). This is sufficient for releasing water for 50 days,” the Chief Minister said | P3 200 special buses run for government staff With the State reopening its offices with 50 per cent staff from Monday, 8 transport corporations operated special buses for the benefit of these employees. While 200 buses operated in Chennai, over 120 buses operated in other parts of the State. The public are not allowed in the buses | P2 TN TALLY ON MAY 18 NEW CASES DISCHARGED 536 234 DEATHS TOTAL CASES 3 11,760 Lockdown norms can’t be diluted, Centre tells states TAMIL NADU 12 districts in Red Zone, rest 26 Orange DELHI Taxis with 2 passengers, auto rickshaw and e-rickshaw with 1 passenger each, buses with 20 passengers allowed KARNATAKA Entry of people from high virus load states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, TN to be regulated and staggered. All RTC buses to ply UTTAR PRADESH Yogi govt accepts Cong leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's offer to run 1,000 buses to take migrant workers home TELANGANA Entire state in Green zone except capital Hyderabad, which has 54 containment zones in Hyderabad, E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Union home ministry on Monday emphasised that no state or Union Territory can dilute the guidelines for the nationwide lockdown till May 31. States/UTs can only make these restrictions stricter, if need be. In a communication to all chief secretaries, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “States and Union Territories cannot dilute restrictions... I would urge you to ensure compliance of the new guidelines and direct all concer ned authorities for their strict implementation.” On Sunday, the Union home ministry allowed states and Union territories to take the call on categorising Red, Orange and Green zones. Within the Red and Orange zones, containment and buffer zones are to be identified by the district administration and local urban bodies with technical inputs at the local level and by taking into consideration the Union health ministry’s guidelines. Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and no movement of persons will be allowed across the zones, except for medical emergencies and maintaining the supply of essential goods and services. The home secretary said a limited number of activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country . Many chief ministers during their interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought powers to decide the classification of the zones. Rural saloons to open from today. Shop to be disinfected 5 times daily, masks a must Producers, directors request Minister Kadambur Raju to give permission for film shoots FOREIGN research houses have yet again rung a death knell on India’s economic growth. While Goldman Sachs and Nomura separately estimated real GDP growth to shrink 5% in FY21, US investment management firm Bernstein projected an even sharper negative growth of 7%. In absolute numbers, India’s national output will shrink by as much as `7.3 lakh crore. It means, if in FY20 real GDP (calculated using base year 2011-12) stood at `147 lakh crore, this fiscal it could settle at `139 lakh crore. Similarly nominal GDP (cal, culated at current prices) and the often used metric stood at `204 lakh crore in FY20. Assuming a 5% negative growth in nominal terms will result in domestic output shaving off nearly `10 lakh crore taking GDP to `194 lakh crore in FY21. Worryingly, this time, if the negative growth forecasts turn out to be true, India will see the harshest recessions it has ever experienced. “There have been a series of structural reform announcements across several sectors over the past few days. These reforms are more mediumterm in nature, and we, therefore, do not expect these to have an immediate impact on reviving growth,” noted Andrew Til- LOW FATALITY RATE THROWS UP AN INTERESTING PUZZLE S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi AMID surging Covid-19 cases in India, the significant positive is the low fatality rate — nearly 3.2% — when compared with most other countries hit badly by it. But the dramatic difference in the fatality rate among states with high case loads has even the government and public health experts baffled. The case fatality rate (CFR) varies from 0.6% to nearly 9% in the country — a phenomenon that has not been fully explained so far, even as the total coronavirus cases have crossed 96,000 and the toll now stands at 3,029. Globally the Covid-19 mor, tality rate is at 6.9% with several European countries reporting particularly high death rates, as compared to Asian nations. The theories explaining the stark difference include testing capacity , case definitions, age distribution and preparedness of health systems. West Bengal, with 2,677 confirmed Covid cases — at number eight in terms of case load — has nearly 9% death rate or three times the national average while Tamil Nadu, the third worst-hit state, has this figure at 0.7 — among the lowest in India. F ATA L I T Y R AT E 8.9 5.8 5 3.8 3.6 2,677 11,379 T O TA L CASES 4,977 80 33,053 n West Bengal n Gujarat n Madhya Pradesh n Himachal Pradesh n Maharashtra Gujarat, considered better off than many norther n states, has the second highest case load and also the second highest CFR (5.7) among states that have reported significant fatalities due to the infection so far. In Madhya Pradesh, also among the states ravaged by the virus, the CFR stands at 5. But in Delhi, which has the fourth highest case load in the country, its CFR is 1.6. And Maharashtra, with the highest tally both in case count and Covid deaths, has CFR of 3.7, a little above the national mark. Overall, seven states have CFR higher than the national average, prompting the Centre to ask them to identify individuals with influenza-like symptoms and also pay attention on medical management of hospitalised patients. “We have been analysing why more patients are succumbing to the infection in some states as compared to others but have not been able to pinpoint exact reasons,” said a Union health ministry official. CONTINUED ON: P7 CROSS-BORDER TRIP Hiding under a lorry, new dad tries to smuggle self to Kerala EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Tenkasi IT was a bittersweet experie n c e, wh e n D eva ( n a m e changed) found out that he had become a father. He was in Tenkasi while his wife had delivered their baby in Kollam district of Kerala. Deva applied for a pass to go see his child, only to be declined. Not the one to accept defeat, he decided to smuggle himself through the border. Deva found a lorry plying to Kerala, and decided to hide himself in it without the driver’s knowledge. He wedged himself between the spare tyre and chassis of the lorry that w a s t r a n s p o r t i n g wo o d . TAPAS RANJAN FY21 growth forecasts pre and post Covid @ Hyderabad Perched precariously underneath the vehicle, just centimetres away from the ground, Deva decided to travel all the way to Kollam — a good 100 km away . He covered 25 km successfully He went unnoticed by the . TN police at Puliyarai check post. He was hoping the same to happen on the Kerala side of the border, at the Aryankavu check post. In fact, it did! The police checked the vehicle and let it pass. However, when the lorry left, they saw a man clinging to life underneath it. A few cops chased the lorry down on their bikes and caught hold of Deva. His journey ended there. Deva is now under quarantine at a hospital in Punalur. GOLDMAN SACHS December 2019 5.8% April 2020 1.6% May 2020 (-5)% NOMURA December 2019 6.5% April 2020 (-0.5)% May 2020 (-5.2)% ton and Prachi Mishra of Goldman Sachs. During the current quarter (Q1), Goldman pegged an unusual fall in GDP at 45% over the previous quarter. Earlier, it projected the decline to be 20%. The good news is, it expects an equally sharper rebound Q2 at 20% over, and Q3 and Q4 at 14% and 6.5%, respectively . As for the `20 lakh crore economic package announced, Goldman Sachs believes it won’t have any immediate impact on the economy. “These structural reforms are more medium-term in nature, and we don’t expect these to have an immediate impact on reviving growth,” it said. Bernstein, too, didn’t mince words. “The desire to announce a large economic package, something that shows the world that they care about the economy and are willing to match global stimulus numbers, was perhaps the driver for the claim of a large package,” noted Venugopal Garre, Ankit Agrawal, and Ranjeet Jaiswal of Bernstein adding, “While the package started on important aspects but the need to announce measures that add up to this top-down number, made the entire package aimless, with several generic announcements which should ideally, have been a part of a normal economic agenda. Overall, we see it as a lost opportunity .” According to them India doesn’t have fiscal buffers and hence a large fiscal stimulus would have been a bold bet. Instead, the government, it said, took an easier path. “The focus should have been on urban, corporates, consumption, infra and impacted sectors, but it was on rural and strange-end markets such as space program. Rural is in control, as farm incomes are protected (good harvest season and a good start to summer crop sowing). Yet, several measures (in the form of loans) were announced for Agri, some of which are already existing programs,” they wrote. While the overall plan lacked substantive decisions to support consumption and promote manufacturing, the authors noted that even broader reforms lacked the spark. SoftBank fund posts mindboggling $18 bn loss, Ma quits board B I S M A H M A L I K @ Bengaluru JAPANESE conglomerate SoftBank on Monday said its Vision Fund – one of the world’s largest tech investors – lost a staggering $17.7 billion last fiscal due to dismal performance by its unicorn portfolio companies including WeWork, Uber and OYO. The Tokyo-headquartered firm said it incurred a loss of nearly $9 billion for the financial year ended in March 2020. The bleak number came on a day when the firm’s high-profile board member Jack Ma stepped down. The exit of Ma, co-founder of Ali Baba and China’s richest man, could lead to further distancing of SoftBank from one of its largest portfolio companies. The group has now nominated three new board directors as investors have been pushing for more transparency . During the earnings presentation on Monday, SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son compared the Covid-19 pandemic to the Great Depression. He said the tech start-ups were falling “in a valley of coronavirus”. Painting a grim future, he said that out of the 88 companies the group has invested in, 15 are likely to go bankrupt and 15 unicorns (with a valuation of over $1 billion) can survive the tide and bring more investments. Some of SoftBank’s biggest portfolio companies including Uber, WeWork, OYO have already fired thousands of em- ployees the world over and scaled back on infrastructure costs and expansion plans. On Monday, WeWork India CEO Karan Virwani wrote to his employees saying “an immediate need to cut costs has led the company to cut 20% of its workforce (100 employees) in India”. SoftBank’s $1.5-billion bet on 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal’s budget friendly hotel chain OYO is also heading for a disaster as the company has shut its operations THE BIG LOSER Uber Technologies $5.2 billion WeWork $4.6 billion Rest of the portfolio $7.9 billion overseas and furloughed a section of employees in India to save cash. Since the coronavirus outbreak, OYO’s revenues have dropped by 50-60% amidst the company’s failed attempts to turn profitable. As of March, the total valuation of 88 start-ups that Son-led SoftBank invested in stood at $69.6 billion. SoftBank had invested nearly $75 billion in these startups.
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