KOCHI l TUESDAY l JULY 28, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION Infra push can revive economy: RBI Guv Parekh, Kotak for one-time loan revamp L4.8 lakh cr loans may turn bad this year Hospitality sector staring at L15L-cr loss India’s sinking economy can be salvaged by pumping big money into the infrastructure sector, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Monday. Addressing a CII event, Das urged India Inc to sharpen their focus on the infrastructure sector, as public sector investments alone won’t lift the Covid-19-hit economy. He noted that the big push to mega projects like expressways and high-speed rail corridors can kickstart the economy Veteran bankers HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh and Kotak Mahindra Bank chief Uday Kotak on Monday urged the RBI to consider a one-time restructuring of loans for the banking industry. Parekh also suggested that the loan moratorium should not be extended any further as both individuals and companies are misusing the provision. “Please do not extend the moratorium because even those who can pay are not paying,” he added Loans worth a whopping D4.8 lakh crore may turn bad due to Covid-induced economic slowdown. This, however, is only the first estimate with revisions expected during the course of the year. According to RBI’s Financial Stability Report, FY21 gross NPAs may increase to 12.5% in a baseline scenario from 8.5% in FY20. Total advances this fiscal may touch C110 lakh crore, which means gross bad loans could balloon to D13.5 lakh crore India’s tourism and hospitality sector could see losses to the tune of D15 lakh crore due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality said on Monday. With spike in cases all across the country, tourism supply chains have completely broken down and the sector is not expected to recover in the next five months. The apex body had earlier projected D5 lakh crore for the industry P10 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 Sivasankar grilled for 9 hrs, it’s not over yet NIA sleuths quiz him on his links with Swapna and Sarith; lawyer says senior bureaucrat was unaware of smuggling NIA collects video footage E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi NINE suspense-filled hours went by on Monday as speculation was rife about the possible outcome of the National Investigation Agency’s interrogation of M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The marathon questioning over the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel, however, had an anti-climactic end as the former IT secretary left the NIA office in Kochi in his own car just after 7pm. The drama is far from over as officers asked Sivasankar to appear before them again at the NIA office at 10am on Tuesday , preparing the ground for a third round of questioning by the central agency . n NIA collects video footage from the Secretariat in connection with its probe into the gold smuggling case n The delay in testing the accused persons for Covid-19 affects the investigation n The national and state agencies M Sivasankar arrives at the NIA office in Kochi for interrogation in the case related to the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channel | A SANESH NIA sleuths are learnt to have interrogated the senior bureaucrat on his links with the accused duo of Swapna Suresh and Sarith P S on the basis of digital evidence collected from 702 +VE vs 745 RECOVERIES Kerala heaved a sigh of relief on Monday as the number of recoveries reported was more than fresh cases, which saw a dip. NO LOCKDOWN: CABINET Cabinet decides not to enforce a total lockdown in the state. Restrictions will be enforced strictly in the worst-affected areas. P4 1 45 of 67 persons at Ettumanoor market in Kottayam found infected in antigen testing. P5 2 Ernakulam Collector orders probe into the alleged delay in attending to a security guard, brought to the Aluva Dist Hospital with high fever, that led to his death. P3 3 483 contracted the virus through local transmission 9,609 under treatment STATE REPORTS FOUR DEATHS Kerala on Monday reported four more Covid deaths — three from Ernakulam & one from Alappuzha. There was one more suspected Covid death in Kozhikode, but his test results are yet to come. None of the four deaths was included in the day’s official toll while the death of two persons on Sunday were mentioned by the chief minister. P5 them. Apparently, the officers sought the details of the apartments near the Secretariat where the conspiracy was allegedly hatched. Having started from his resi- are revisiting all terror-related cases probed in the state so far as they intend to find the missing links on the sources of money from abroad to fund anti-national activities dence in Thiruvananthapuram around 4.30am, Sivasankar reached the NIA office at Girinagar in Kochi around 9.20am. The chauffeur-driven car, in which he had a relative for com- Raj Guv seeks 21-day notice to call session RAJESH ASNANI AND RICHA SHARMA @ Jaipur/New Delhi AMID the ongoing drama over calling the Rajasthan assembly session to deal with the Congress revolt, Governor Kalraj Mishra continued to play for time, asking the Ashok Gehlot government to provide a 21-day notice period for convening the House. Analysts saw in it an attempt to create more wriggle room for the BJP and Sachin Pilot, who is leading the 19 rebel lawmakers. Gehlot suggested July 31 as the date for the session to commence. Mishra wondered if a trust vote would be part of the House agenda, since Gehlot’s communication to him was silent on it though the chief minister was freely talking about in the public domain. Mishra also wanted to know the plan to maintain social distancing during the session, given the Covid-19 situation. August deluge? Low pressure brewing over Bay of Bengal DHINESH KALLUNGAL @ T’Puram A LOW-PRESSURE area over the Bay of Bengal, which is in its early s t a g e, l o o k s p o t e n t enough to cause problems for the state next month. Two similar systems in 2018 and another one in 2019 — all in August — had resulted in heavy rain, flooding and other calamities in the state. The latest l ow p r e s sure is expected to for m between August 4 and 6, develop into a depression/deep depression and bring heavy rain to the state in the second week of August. Anticipating it, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has already begun taking steps. A weather bulletin issued by K Santhosh, director of the India Meteorolo gical De par tment, Thiruvananthapuram, said the weather models indicate the formation of a lowpressure area over westcentral and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odi● More on P4 sha coasts. 16 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS pany did not stop en route even , as television media vehicles chased them all the way The in. terrogation, which started around 10am, was held in the presence of NIA SP Rahul S and other top officers. F rom the NIA of fice, Sivasankar headed straight to the office of his lawyer S Rajeev. But he did not get out of his car and spoke to the lawyer over phone. After 10 minutes, Sivasankar reached a hotel at Panampilly Nagar to spend the night. “He was unaware of the smuggling activities and has no involvement in the case. He may become a witness, which is the NIA’s decision. We have full faith in the NIA probe and will cooperate with the agency Ra,” jeev told reporters. ● More on P4 EXPRESS READ Pvt buses to stop services from August 1 T’Puram: Private bus operators in the state have decided to suspend services from August 1 citing unviability during the pandemic. Terming the crisis an unprecedented one, the operators said a 25 per cent fare hike was not enough in the wake of steady rise in fuel prices. The bus operators will intimate the Motor Vehicles Department on suspending the services. P4 47 CLONES INDIA BANS ANOTHER SET OF CHINESE APPS ARSHAD KHAN @ New Delhi BARELY a month after banning 59 Chinese applications, India has banned another set of 47 apps, most of which are clones of the apps banned in June. While the government did not imme250+ apps diately release the names of the 47 on radar apps, sources said the present list inIndia is closely clude TikTok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit monitoring Lite and BIGO LIVE Lite. over 250 According to sources, India is closely Chinese apps monitoring another 250 Chinese apps to verify over user privacy and national securicomplaints of ty violations. The popular Tencentuser privacy backed gaming app PUBG and apps and national linked to one of China’s biggest firm security Alibaba fall in this list. violations. If PUBG is banned, it will be a big These include blow for Chinese tech firms as the gamapps linked to ing app is one of the most downloaded Alibaba apps in India. The government has been trying to reduce the country’s dependence on China ever since last month’s deadly face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies on the Line of Actual Control. The ban on popular apps has impacted Chinese firms to such an extent that many have approached the central government seeking to comply with the local data storage norms. Homegrown app makers have welcomed the fresh ban. Chingari App CEO & Co-founder- Sumit Ghosh said Indian citizens need to be concerned about data and make sure it remains within India.
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