KOCHI l SATURDAY l MAY 23, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION SOME OCI CARD HOLDERS CAN NOW TRAVEL TO INDIA Those eligible to fly in include Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders who want to attend family emergencies LIFE-LONG VISAS FOR OCIs RESTORED PART OF VANDE BHARAT MISSION The relaxation also applies to minors with OCI cards born to Indian nationals abroad, university students whose parents are Indian citizens living in India and OCI spouses of Indian citizens. The government also restored the multiple-entry life-long visas granted to OCI card holders that were suspended on March 18 on account of the coronavirus pandemic ■ Earlier, while launching the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7, the government had said it was considering travel requests from OCI cardholders, but decided to prioritise the evacuation of Indian nationals. Friday’s decision means OCI cardholders will now be among those who would be evacuated under the mission 34 lakh OCI CARDS HAVE BEEN ISSUED SINCE 2005 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 We aren’t afraid, declares CM as Kerala sees biggest single-day spike NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS With domestic flight services set to resume, the state has insisted on making testing and quarantine mandatory for the passengers reaching the state 1 Chief Minister asks people not to utilise lockdown relaxations for celebration 2 Relaxations in complete lockdown restrictions to be allowed on Sunday as Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated 3 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram WITH Kerala reporting 42 cases on Friday — the biggest singleday spike since the coronavirus outbreak — and thousands expected to return from the rest of the country and beyond, the state government is gearing up to expand its containment measures. Kerala had almost contained the first wave and brought down the number of active cases to 16 before the count started rising again following the return of NRKs. As on Fri- day, 216 persons were under treatment. Twenty-one of Friday’s cases were among those who had returned from Maharashtra and 17 from foreign countries. One each among those who returned from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh also tested positive. While the new patient in Kannur contracted the virus through contact, a health work- Modi takes stock of massive devastation @ Kolkata/Bhubaneswar IN his first trip outside Delhi in nearly three months following the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday undertook an aerial survey of the areas badly mauled by the recent Amphan cyclone in West Bengal and Odisha, and announced advance interim assistance of `1,000 crore and `500 crore respectively for the two states. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik accompanied the PM during the aerial survey in their respective states. With the toll rising to 80 in Bengal, Modi also announced compensation of `2 lakh for next of kin of each of the deceased and `50,000 for the injured in both the affected states. A Central team will visit the ravaged areas shortly to quantify the extent of damage. “I am here to assure everyone in Bengal, in this time of crisis you will find the Central gover nment standing beside you shoulder to shoulder. All aspects relating to rehabilitation and reconstruction will be addressed to rebuild West Bengal. We all want West Bengal to move ahead and the Centre will always stand with Bengal in this testing time,” Modi said. BIG SHOT ICC RELEASES GUIDELINES FOR RESUMPTION OF GAME Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making an aerial survey of the areas affected by the cyclone, on Friday Assures full support to both the affected states In identical messages to both West Bengal and Odisha, the prime minister assured that the Central government will fully support them in rehabilitation and reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure ‘’We have not placed any demand before the prime minister. I showed some photographs of Kolkata after the cyclone hit the city I have told him in detail . about the post-cyclone situation in Bengal. I don’t know what will be the Centre’s package for Bengal. In this hour of crisis, we must work together,’’ Banerjee later said. In Odisha, Modi lauded the chief minister, the state gover nment and the people for ensuring minimum loss of life by undertaking preparations well in advance. Yet, the cyclone caused large-scale damage to housing, power and infrastructure, besides the agriculture sector in Odisha, he observed and assured full support for restoration work. The areas the PM surveyed in West Bengal were Kakdwip, Kultali, Namkhana and Patharpratima of South 24-Parganas district and Minakhan, Haroa, Rajarhat and Basirhat in North 24-Parganas district. In Odisha, he flew over Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj districts. According to the Odisha government’s estimate, about 44.8 lakh people in 1,500 panchayats under 89 blocks of the coastal districts have been affected by the cyclone. Agriculture has taken a big hit with crops damaged in over 1 lakh hectare while large number of kutcha houses were blown away . 14-day isolation camp before tours, cricketers can’t hand over items like sunglasses, sweaters to umpires or teammates; appointing chief medical officers are some of the recommendations made by the governing body I P11 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE RBI on Friday confirmed that the current fiscal was no picnic as growth enters a negative territory If this happens, . it’ll be the first time since 1980 when real GDP registered a de-growth. So playing it by the ear, the central bank got its financial ducks in a row reducing key benchmark rates, extending loan moratorium by three months, deferring interest on working capital loans, besides throwing a small but additional credit line to the commercial sector. Lahore Airport K PA AN ST I Jinnah Int’l Airport THE monthly demand for rural jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employm e n t G u a r a n t e e S ch e m e (MGNREGS) has touched a new high at 3.95 crore until May 20, with analysts saying it will most likely cross 4 crore by the end of the month. This is significantly higher than the month-wise demand this year, which was 2.48 crore in January 2,92 crore in Febru, ary 2.70 crore in March and 1.77 , crore in April, according to the Ministry of Rural Development data. It is also much more than the monthly average demand of 2.3 crore in 2019-20. The spike in May this year is indicative of the huge job losses all around, particularly in the informal sector, where lakhs of workers have suddenly become unemployed owing to the lockdown. “Obviously the lockdown has had an impact. When industries cease to function, where will the workers go? The high number of people seeking work under the MGNREGS is due to desperation. Most of these workers have gone home and have no work hence they are seeking jobs under the scheme,” said Tajamul Haque, a former Niti-Aayog member. An analysis of the data shows there is a spike in demand for MGNREGS jobs in May-June when the sowing season for kharif crops is set into motion. But never has it crossed 4 crore, which is most likely this month, in the past five financial years. The previous highest was in June 201617, when the number of rural job seekers was 3.68 crore. The data also shows that states which have seen reverse migration of workers have seen a sharp rise, most significantly in Uttar Pradesh. The total number of applications in UP was 17.4 lakh in March and The big cheese within the Friday fix includes extension of interest on working capital by three months till August 31. Interest can be converted into a term loan for companies big and small, which can be repaid by March 2021. It means, borrowers get more than six months additional time and money as banks will convert accumulated interest on working capital into a funded interest term loan (FITL). “We feel majority of MSMEs have opted for the same and possibly around half of corporates have opted for it. Further, with around 75% of such debt is A and above rated, we expect them to be able to pay the accumulated interest as scheduled or to the FITL,” said Sowmya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, SBI. Meanwhile, repo rate was cut by 40 basis points to 4%, while reverse repo rate was slashed to 3.35%. Repo rate was cut by 115 bps in flat 60 days, which means interest rates will go down further, particularly home loans that will touch new historic levels. Moratorium on all term loans, including housing and auto loans, has been extended till August 31 allowing borrowers to conserve cash amid employers’ unkind salary cuts and layoffs. Financial advisers, however, suggest timely repayments wherever possible to avoid an insane interest accumulation. SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar said only 20% of the bank’s borrowers availed moratorium between March and May, though more could follow suit in round two. AP At least MODEL COLONY KARACHI Jet with 98 crashes in Pak MGNREGS work demand at 5-year high HOW THEY COMPARE MGNREGS Rural job work States demand in demand in May March Bihar 12,44,491 16,94,494 Chhattisgarh 22,99,126 42,20,136 Andhra Pradesh 42,67,455 66,28,938 Gujarat 2,71,296 9,54,658 Madhya Pradesh 14,77,337 33,71,539 Maharashtra 7,13,164 12,27,708 Uttar Pradesh 17,40,211 49,34,269 Rajasthan 22,06,063 47,32,526 NEGATIVE GDP GROWTH RBI governor admitted the impact of Covid-19 is more severe than anticipated and GDP growth during 2020-21 is likely to remain in the negative territory KERALA CASE DIARY 42 cases reported on Friday 216 under treatment 732 cases have been confirmed so far 512 have recovered 4 deaths + 1 Mahe native died in Kannur For the 1st time, China opts not to set GDP target STRESS IN INFORMAL SECTOR P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi WORKING CAPITAL SHIELD Moratorium on working capital interest extended by three months. All interest accumulated for six-month moratorium period can be converted into a term loan EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE have come back from foreign countries and other states. Of them, 2,961 were pregnant women, 1,618 senior citizens and 805 children. As many as 157 of the returnees are under hospital quarantine. The CM said the state is preparing for an influx of retur nees. “People who need critical care will be among those returning. More people may need hospitalisation. We have arranged sufficient facilities, including ventilators,” he ● More on P4 said. LOAN MORATORIUM WINDOW GETS BIGGER, EMIs SET TO DIP Announces advance interim assistance of C1,000 crore to Bengal and C500 crore to Odisha, offers compensation to all the victims er too was infected in Kozhikode. “Today’s rise is a serious warning and also a message that the containment system needs to be expanded in a big way. The number of Keralites returning to the state is set to increase. We won’t shut the door on anyone though the number of infected persons is going up with each passing day We aren’t . afraid. Proper diagnosis and treatment would be available to all,” the CM said at the daily press meet. A total of 91,344 Keralites KEY POLICY RATES CUT RBI slashes rate at which it lends money to banks, called repo rate, by 40 bps to 4%; also cuts rate at which banks park money with it — reverse repo — to 3.35% The containment system needs to be expanded in a big way. The number of Keralites returning to the state is set to increase. We won’t shut the door on anyone though the number of infected persons is going up with each passing day — Pinarayi Vijayan 12.7 lakh in April. This jumped to 49.3 lakh until May 20. The corresponding figures for Madhya Pradesh were 14.7 lakh, 11.3 lakh and 33.7 lakh. Surprisingly in Bihar, where also lakhs of migrant workers have returned, has not shown such a sharp rise. It was 12.4 lakh in March, 9.3 lakh in April and 16.9 lakh in May this year. The increasing demand for MGNREGS jobs only seems to confirm what many organizations have projected about unemployment. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy rural unemployment , rose from 8.49% in March to 22.67% on April 29. MGNREGS job applicants have to first generate a job card number by registering with por tals run by state governments. 40 killed as Pakistan International Airlines jet with 91 passengers 7 crew members crashes into a residential area in Karachi l captain of Airbus A320 aircraft coming from The Lahore reported a fault with the jet’s landing gear as it approached to land l Local Air Traffic Control lost contact with the The aircraft at 2.37 pm. Two minutes later, it crashed l media reported that at least three Local passengers survived the crash l full extent of damage on the ground is not clear. The Rescue officials confirmed at least four bodies have been recovered from damaged houses | P10 New Delhi: With its economy taking a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic, China on Friday announced that it will not set a GDP growth target for this year. This is for the first time since 1990 that China is doing away with setting an annual economic growth target. “This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the uncertainty regarding the pandemic and the world economic and trade environment,” Premier Li Keqiang said. Analysts say Friday’s decision may have been taken as China is set to miss a key political goal of doubling its GDP from 2010. 16 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS Where’s BevQ? App route to liquor sale takes longer than necessary D H I N E S H K A L L U N G A L @ T’Puram THE newly developed BevQ mobile application for introducing virtual queue system for liquor sale in Kerala is not ready for launch yet though it has been nearly a week since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the state is ready to open its liquor vends. Fair Code, the Kochi-based startup which developed the app, has been told to improve its security aspects, officials said. The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) had entrusted the app’s security audit test with a private agency in Thiruvananthapuram which is yet to give its report. Bevco MD Sparjan Kumar told TNIE that the corporation is ready to launch the app anytime once the security clearance is issued. “Along with the customers, we too have been waiting to get the clearance for the past few days,” he said. Bevco sources said the corporation is not in a position to announce a date for restarting liquor sale. There are various stages in the security audit test which have to be cleared. Only then the app’s commercial launch will be possible. Otherwise, the corporation could be drawn into litigation The work on the app is almost finished. We think it’s a delay tactic by the corporation to create hype around the app on the public domain — Fair Code representative if anything goes wrong. The agency was not happy with the load test done on the app and it asked the startup to enhance the app’s technical competency . “Normally, a customer will try to take an online token from at least two or three smartphones, thus increasing the traffic. This is what was seen in Tamil Nadu and Delhi when the apps for virtual queue system were launched, which led to a crash. We have to avoid this scenario in Kerala where the traffic would be 10 times more. The app failed to meet this expectation and the startup was told to rework. Further, Kerala has also plans to make it a permanent mechanism,” said a senior officer.
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