QBiz: Recharge Shops Allowed to Open; Fiscal Package 2.0 Expected

Your daily lowdown of all the top business news for the day.

5 min read

1. Phone Recharge Shops Are Allowed to Operate: MHA Tells States

The home ministry has clarified that recharge facilities for prepaid phone numbers are allowed to function according to the relaxed guidelines issued for lockdown.

In a letter to chief secretaries of States, dated April 21, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, said that public utilities including recharge facilities for prepaid mobile connection are allowed to operate with a standard operating procedure for social distancing.

The move will benefit around 450 million feature phone users who do not have access to internet connection or digital recharge facilities.

(Photo: The Economic Times)


2. Fighting COVID-19: Govt May Roll Out Fiscal Package 2.0 Today

The Cabinet will likely clear the next round of relief measures on Wednesday to prop up an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on saving both lives and livelihood. Critical sectors, including MSMEs, exports, aviation, construction, and some other labour-intensive segments, will likely be among the many to get the succour.

The government’s total fiscal response over an extended period could be worth 3-4% of GDP (roughly Rs 6-8 lakh crore), on top of the monetary measures initiated by the central bank to ease liquidity to critical sectors.

However, the Centre will calibrate its responses and announce several rounds of measures over the next few weeks, while refraining from declaring just a one-time, big-bang stimulus package.

(Source: Financial Express)

3. Equity Support to MSMEs: Rs 10,000-Crore Fund Soon

The government is considering a proposal to create a Rs 10,000-crore fund to buy up to 15% equity in crisis-hit, but otherwise well-rated, MSMEs that will list on bourses, an official source told FE. The MSME ministry has submitted this plan with the finance ministry.

Separately, the Centre is also weighing another proposal to create a Rs 10,000-crore fund of funds for these small businesses, along the lines of the one, meant for start-ups. This fund of funds may make downstream investments in venture capital and alternative investment funds that will, in turn, invest in MSMEs with AAA or AA-rated ratings.

(Source: Financial Express)


4. COVID-19 Impact: Port Congestion Adds to Exporters’ Woes

Import containers have piled up at ports as manufacturing of non-essential goods is yet pick up under the lockdown, prompting some ports to shut export gates.

India’s exports shrank almost 35% in March, the biggest contraction in almost a decade, reflecting the global slowdown made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Exporters looking to restart operations are confronted with multiple issues including additional costs due to stringent norms, cash flows and getting labour back to work.

Shipping lines are skipping Indian ports due to lack of yard space is the concern that Indian exporters and importers have begun facing as trade opens up. JNPT is preparing a contingency plan to clear congestion.

(Source: The Economic Times)


5. Google Shopping to Allow Merchants to List Products for Free Amid Global Lockdown

In a major step to push e-commerce amid COVID-19 restrictions, Google on Tuesday said it is advancing its plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google.

While the listing of products on Google Shopping is set to become free, businesses may still have to pay Google if they wish to promote their listings.

"Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google," Bill Ready, Google's President of Commerce wrote in a blog post.

These changes will take effect in the US before the end of April, Google said, adding that it aims to expand this globally before the end of the year.

(Source: Livemint)


6. Fearing NPAs, Banks Shoot Off Notices to Malls for Loan Repayment

Leading public sector banks (PSBs) have shot off letters to shopping mall owners, invoking contractual obligations under the lease rental discounting (LRD) facility for loan repayments.

Fearing that these accounts might become non-performing assets (NPAs), the PSBs have directed them to raise invoices for the month of April and ask their tenants to make rental payments in the escrow account of the respective bank.

LRD is a term loan offered against rental receipts derived from lease contracts with corporate tenants.

The move, however, has been opposed by the Shopping Centers Association of India (SCAI), which represents more than 650 modern malls and shopping centres. The association estimates that the move will impact about 50 percent of such centres and may force them to default on payments, leading to NPAs of over Rs 25,000 crore.

(Source: The Business Standard)


7. Government-Appointed Committee Suggests GDP Data Revamp for States

A government-appointed committee has suggested a complete revamp of how states collect and compile data for the state-level gross domestic product (GDP) and other estimates.

In its final report, submitted on March 16, the committee for sub-national accounts suggested that goods and services tax (GST) be used for estimating incomes and other statistics at the state level.

It also said that states should compile their own index of industrial production (IIP) instead of relying on the all-India IIP data in order to come up with more accurate estimates. Constituted by the statistics and programme implementation ministry in June 2018, the committee, headed by Ravindra H Dholakia, was tasked with reviewing the methodology of estimation of sub-national accounts and giving its recommendations.

(Source: The Economic Times)


8. 72% Companies to Take a COVID Hit, 61% to Defer Expansion: FICCI Survey

Almost 72% of companies see their businesses being highly impacted by the emerging situation of the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown, according to a business impact survey released on Tuesday.

Data from a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) survey said 70% of surveyed firms saw sales declining by more than 20% this fiscal. “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing deep economic harm and could reverse the gains made in the industrial economy over many decades.

There is a need to render immediate and sizable support to industry to protect people, jobs, and enterprises,” said Sangita Reddy, president of Ficci. The Ficci-Dhruva Survey conducted firms saw sales declining by more than 20% this fiscal.

(Source: The Economic Times)


9. Lockdown Hits Production of Anti-TB Drugs, Health Min Seeks to Ban Export

India’s fight against COVID-19 might be costing it in its battle against tuberculosis (TB) with the supply and production of a key anti-TB drug taking a hit amid emergency measures being taken to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The industry, however, claims that the shortage is because of production hurdles at two pharma hubs Daman and Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) caused by the restriction on inter-state movement of workers.

The health ministry has taken note of concerns raised by suppliers that because of limited material for production and manpower, the drug supplies could be delayed. The suppliers have said the delays are because of the force majeure in light of COVID-19 response.

(Source: The Business Standard)

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