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What Should Mutual Fund Investors in India Do Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Government announces ?1.5L cr ($19.6bn) relief package. Mulling ?60,000cr ($7,894m) income support plan for those worst hit by the slump in economic activity owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Zomato and Swiggy witness 60% fall in orders. SEBI may limit commodity futures trading till 5pm.

 

 

GOVERNMENT

Announces ?1.5L cr ($19.6bn) relief package.

In This Together

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced a ?1.5L cr ($19.6bn) relief package for the poor to help them deal with the impact of coronavirus outbreak, a day after the entire nation went into a 21-day lockdown to break the chain of infection and flatten the curve. 

 

She also announced a slew of economic measures to support people through coronavirus scare. They include:

  • ?2,000 to be immediately front-leaded in the account of 8.7cr farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi 
  • Free of cost 5 kg rice or wheat and 1 kg pulse under PM Garib Kalyan Package
  • LPG cylinders to be given free of cost to the beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana for the next three months
  • Increase in MNREGA wage to ?202 a day from ?182, benefiting 5cr families

 

Mulling ?60,000cr ($7,894m) income support plan for those worst hit by the slump in economic activity owing to the coronavirus pandemic. 

More Help Coming In

The Government is reportedly mulling a ?60,000cr ($7,894m) income support plan for those worst-hit by the slump in economic activity.

 

As per sources, the scheme could entail transferring ?5,000-6,000 into the bank accounts of 80-100m poor families. 

 

Discussions are also ongoing regarding the deferment of EMIs for targeted individuals and loan repayments for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). [BS]

 

DELIVERY

E-retailers expected to resume services soon, but challenges remain. 

Glass Half-Full, Half-Empty

E-retailers such as BigBasket, Grofers, Amazon and Flipkart, which have currently suspended or restricted services in light of the nationwide lockdown, are expected to resume delivery of groceries and essentials in a few days.

 

However, they face an integral challenge of getting frontline workers back to their warehouses and on to the streets, and also fulfilling pending orders.

 

E-commerce platforms Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal said they will accord priority to delivering essential items. They said non-essential orders are expected to be fulfilled only after April 15th once movement restrictions are lifted. [ET Tech]

 

Zomato and Swiggy witness 60% fall in orders. 

Difficult Times

Online food delivery platforms Swiggy and Zomato have witnessed about 60% fall in the numbers of orders as India has gone into a nationwide lockdown owing to the coronavirus outbreak. 

 

They are now working with limited restaurant partners and delivery partners in several states as riders and kitchen staff have refused to step out fearing police harassment amid the lockdown. 

 

In addition to this, kitchens have also begun facing issues with procuring supplies to run operations, further pressuring them to shut shop.

 

More than 95% of restaurants nationally are offline, according to the National Restaurant Association of India. [ET Rise]

 

COVID-19

Latest data says India’s coronavirus curve has slightly flattened in past 24 hours, but crisis is far from over.

Still a Long Road Ahead

The latest data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) gives some positive news for India, although it is too early to celebrate. The number of confirmed cases in the country has risen by 57 in the last 24 hours – a slower pace than the previous 24-hour period when the number of cases rose by 67. This means India’s coronavirus curve – the graph of number of confirmed cases against days since the pandemic struck – has flattened slightly in the last 24 hours.

 

However, while this is a welcome development, it doesn’t mean this is the beginning of the end of the crisis. As India tests more vigorously in the coming days, more cases are expected to be confirmed. And India’s trajectory is still very close to that of the US, which is fast emerging as the new COVID-19 hotspot. India’s case count has doubled in the last five days to 539, and this number could cross 1,000 by the end of this week. The death toll, meanwhile, has been nine so far, but health experts fear this number too could rise unless urgent measures are undertaken.

 

Globally, the number of confirmed cases is approaching 500,000, with more than 18,000 deaths – most of them in Italy, China, Spain, Iran and France. The US has seen 33,000+ cases and 417 deaths so far, and these numbers are expected to worsen in the coming days. [Livemint]

 

Why even for the biggest US companies, cash is still king.

Tough Days Ahead

The number of Americans filing unemployment has sky-rocketed to 3.28m. This number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. The previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was just 282,000. [CNBC]

 

Money is the Master

The coronavirus crisis is shedding light on how, despite the fintech revolution and online banking trend, cash is still king. Even the biggest US companies are cutting spending and bolstering their balance sheets as the crisis hits the American economy. And not all of them are prepared. While technology companies like Apple have operated with more cash on hand than retailers, years of easy credit and cheap debt have meant that businesses have been caught off guard. Here’s a report on how and why cash is still king. [WSJ]

 

COPING WITH CORONA

SEBI may limit commodity futures trading till 5pm. 

Shutter Down

As per sources, market regulator SEBI is likely to cut down trading hours for commodity markets in India to 5pm from 11.30pm till the lockdown over coronavirus ends.

 

This follows requests by brokers, considering that they find it difficult to call even bare minimum staff required in office amidst the lockdown. [BS]

 

Another sector adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic is sports. With IPL, NBA, Masters Golf, Formula One, Euros and even the Olympics postponed, sports enthusiasts are having a rather tough time getting through the global lockdowns.

 

Here's a amusing look at what athletes, teams and sports fans are doing during this difficult time. [The News Indian Express

 

Extra Crunch

And as per this fascinating report by The Economist, with physical sporting events being cancelled or postponed, video-gaming contests look rather well placed to claim a larger share of spectators’ attention, and so of advertising dollars. [The Economist]

 

PERSONAL FINANCE

What should investors do during these times of economic slump?

Ask the Expert

Following the rather continuous slump in the recent weeks, the frontline indices such as the BSE Sensex and the Nifty 50 are down by around 30%. Some of the stocks are down by up to 70-80%.

 

As for long-term investors, the equity MF NAVs have also come down considerably. Even the SIP investors, who had started investing ten years back, are about to enter negative territory or may already have started getting negative returns by now.

 

Here's an insightful interview with Arun Kumar, Head of Research at FundsIndia.com, where Financial Express attempts to find answers to some of the common queries of equity MF investors and understand what they should do now. [Financial Express]

 

These are unprecedented times. Job losses, salary cuts, crashing global stock markets. As nations go into lockdown to break the chain of coronavirus infection, money management and supplies become key.

 

Here are a few money management tips for four categories of people. [BS]

 

Tax deductions and tax exemptions you should keep an eye out for. 

In the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, the Finance Minister on Tuesday announced a slew of measures to provide relief amid the coronavirus outbreak, including the extension of last date for IT returns for FY19 extended to June 30th 2020. While we heave a sigh of relief, for many of us tax (income tax in particular) can be a head-scratcher. 

 

However, to be honest, income tax is a simple, really, once you understand the terminologies involved and laws referred to. And if you make use of the numerous income tax deductions and exemptions available to the taxpayer, you will end up paying a whole lot less - and maybe even none!

 

Here's a look at tax deductions and exemptions for AY 2020-21 under Section 80C. [TRANSFIN.]

FIN.

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