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Ending Phase of the Spread of Coronavirus Outbreak in India Should Start from May 9th

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Apr 6, 2020 4:16 PM 5 min read
Editorial

‘Ending Phase’ of the spread of coronavirus outbreak in India should start from May 9th. 80% of the total coronavirus positive cases in India traced back to 62 districts. Pensions and allowances of MPs and other top officials slashed by 30%. India begins using drones to enforce nationwide lockdown and deliver services. India services PMI falls to five-month low.

 

 

ECONOMY

India services PMI falls to five-month low.

Dampening Activity

The IHS Markit India Services PMI declined to a five-month low of 49.3 in March 2020 from February's 85-month high of 57.5 as new business and export demand fell sharply on back of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Business activity dampened in response to weaker demand as the pandemic reportedly led to a fall in new orders from clients, particularly overseas. [Trading Economics]

 

States allowed to avail up to 50% of their FY21 borrowing limit in April alone. 

Charity Begins at Home

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that has caught the Indian economy in a state of limbo, the Centre has allowed states to front-load their borrowing and avail up to 50% of their FY21 borrowing requirements in April itself.

 

The news comes at a time when the Centre is unable to pay all of the dues of the states under various heads, including devolution, goods and services tax compensation, various grants, and the financial packages, which the states have been demanding due to dwindling revenues. [BS]

 

FIGHTING COVID-19

 80% of the total positive cases in India traced back to 62 districts.

Every Goliath Needs a David

India at present has 3,666 active COVID-19 cases and 109 deaths recorded. 

 

Across the country, 274 districts have reported cases so far. According to Health Ministry estimates, the current rate of doubling of cases is 4.1 days (it would have been 7.4 days had the Tablighi Jamaat congregation not happened in Delhi last month).

 

And while there has been a sharp spike in the number of cases and deaths over the past week, over 80% of the total positive cases have been traced to 62 districts across the country. Therefore, the Government would be undertaking aggressive containment strategy for these identified hotspots. 

 

Likewise, restrictions in these districts are likely to continue even after the nationwide 21-day lockdown ends on April 14th. [Indian Express]

 

‘Ending Phase’ of the spread in India should start from May 9th. 

Beginning of the End?

As per an ET report, estimates drawn up by a top Government data laboratory, which was shared with the empowered panel tasked with ensuring adequate medical equipment, forecast that at the current rate, the ‘ending phase’ of the spread in India should start from May 9th.

 

THowever, the predictions have not fully taken into account the Tablighi Jamaat episode, where contacts and the extent of spread of the infection are still being traced.

 

India is currently in the ‘acceleration phase’. [ET Politics and Nation]

 

Extra Crunch

Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan shared his thoughts about what is probably India's greatest challenge in recent times. 

 

Here's a look at the key recommendations from Raghuram Rajan for India to combat the COVID-19 economic crisis. [@TFinMedia]

 

MONEY MATTERS

Pensions and allowances of MPs and other top officials slashed by 30%.

One for All

The Union Cabinet has approved an Ordinance slashing the pension and allowances of Members of Parliament by 30% for a year.

 

The amount will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India and will be utilised in the fight against coronavirus.

 

The President, Vice President, Prime Minister, many state governors and lieutenant-governors have also voluntarily decided to take a pay cut as a social responsibility. [Financial Express]

 

Finance Ministry notifies the Finance Act 2020.

Taxing Times

The Finance Ministry has notified the Finance Act 2020 after the President approved it on March 27th. 

 

Here's a look at some key changes relevant for the salaried taxpayers that are applicable from April 1st. [Financial Express]

 

REALTY CHECK

The Housing sector, already facing a liquidity crunch, reels under effects of coronavirus lockdown.

Fire in the House

The housing sector is reeling under the coronavirus onslaught and the nationwide lockdown. Residential sales are reportedly down 70-80%, shopping malls could see a 10-12% Y-o-Y erosion of rental income, and potential buyers are postponing purchasing decisions given the socioeconomic uncertainty of the times. All in all, not the best time for a sector that was already suffering a liquidity crunch and weak sales. [Livemint]

 

Fears of defaults rise. 

The present crisis ailing the housing sector is unprecedented and crippling. End-user demand has taken a hit, and could take a long time to recover. Meanwhile, banks could be more cautious with loan approvals. The situation, some credit rating agencies worry, could be so severe that there might be defaults in the sector. The pace and nature of the recovery will depend largely on two things – how long the COVID-19 lockdown will linger and if the Government will intervene with policy aids. In the meantime, while sellers wait for the buyer to return to the market, realty will have to confront a reality check. [Livemint]

 

TECH

India begins using drones to enforce nationwide lockdown and deliver services.

It’s  a Bird...It’s a Plane...It’s a...

Drones were first used in China to enforce coronavirus-related restrictions and lockdowns. Videos of Chinese drones swooping in from the sky to chide citizens loitering outside to go back to their homes went viral in the early weeks of the outbreak. Then, as the virus spread from China, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries deployed drones for the same reason.

 

Now, India is following the trend, utilising drones to enforce the lockdown, spray disinfectants and deliver medicines. Several firms are partnering to deploy drones – some repurposed from agricultural applications – as tools to limit human exposure. [ET Tech]

 

New York bans Zoom in schools, citing security concerns. 

Zoom Out

Schools are shut, but students are still learning. In New York, the Department of Education has banned the use of video-calling app Zoom for remote learning purposes in a move that will affect 1.1m students in more than 1,800 schools.

 

Officials said “upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible”, adding they would help schools transition to Microsoft Teams, which has “same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place”. [TechCrunch]

FIN.

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