80 per cent urban workers lose jobs in India due to lockdown, Opposition criticise Centre’s apathy towards migrant workers | The Background

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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80 per cent urban workers lose jobs in India due to lockdown, Opposition criticise Centre’s apathy towards migrant workers

The Background:

In India, number of COVID-19 cases is 78,041 and the death toll has risen to 2,551. Throughout the world the confirmed cases has reached 4,315,679 and the death toll almost touching 3 lakh- 294,879. In the United States the death toll is 83,150, the highest in the world followed by UK-33,263.

Meanwhile, after Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today shared the details of the Rs 20 lakh crore Covid-19 economic stimulus packages. Here are the highlights below:

  • Rs3 lakh crores worth of collateral-free, automatic loans for struggling Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Loans will have a four-year tenure and 12 month moratorium on principal repayment. Borrowers with up to Rs 25 crore loans outstanding and Rs 100 crore turnovers are eligible. The scheme can be availed till October 31, 2020.
  • As part of efforts to support Indian businesses, global tenders will be disallowed for government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.
  • Tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collection at source (TCS) rates reduced by 25% with effect from May 14, 2020 to March 21, 2021. This is expected to release liquidity of Rs 50,000 crore.
  • Deadline for filing income tax returns extended to November 30, 2020, and the last date for tax audit extended to October 31, 2020.
  • A ‘fund of funds’ with a corpus of Rs10, 000 will be set up to help MSMEs with growth potential.
  • The three-month EPF support for businesses and employees — announced for the months of March, April and May — has been extended till August 2020. This will provide liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore. Statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee will be reduced to 10% each (from the current 12% each) for all establishments covered by EPFO for the next three months.
  • A Rs 30,000 crore special liquidity scheme for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), housing finance companies (HFCs) and micro-finance institutions (MFIs).
  • Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) will help infuse liquidity into fund-starved discoms (power distribution companies) by raising Rs 90,000 crore against receivables.
  • All contractors engaged by the government to get extensions of up to 6 months.
  • In a move aimed at giving relief to builders, regulatory authorities will be asked to extend registration and completion dates for all registered projects (expiring on or after March 25) by 6 months.

But, the Congress criticised the relief measures announced by the Finance Minister, stating that there was nothing in them for migrant workers. “There’s absolutely nothing in the measures announced by Sitharaman today for poor migrants who are walking back to their homes,” said party leader P. Chidambaram. He added that the FM had also not announced any cash transfers “for the nearly 13 crore families in the bottom half of the population who have been pushed into destitution”.

CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted,

According to the Azim Premji University COVID-19 Livelihoods Survey, about 80% of urban workers lost their jobs during the lockdown. The average weekly earnings of those who were still employed fell by 61%. About 80% of urban households consumed less food in April-May compared to February, and 61% could not buy even a week’s worth of essentials. Similar effects were felt in rural areas too, though to a lesser degree. The results are based on a phone survey of 4,000 workers across 12 States.

Global Nutrition Report 2020 has said India is among the 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets that are to be met by 2025. According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, India will miss targets for all four nutritional indicators: stunting among under-5 children, anaemia among women of reproductive age, ensuring reduction in low birth weight and childhood overweight, and increasing the rate of exclusive breast-feeding in the first six months.

Two pharmaceutical companies in India have signed deals with American biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences for the sale of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, according to some media reports. Remdesivir was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month as a treatment for patients severely ill with Covid-19. The benefits of the drug were talked up, in particular, by the country’s foremost infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The pharmaceutical firms — Jubilant Life Sciences and Hetero — signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement for selling remdesivir in 127 countries, including India. As per the agreement, companies will also get the rights to manufacture the drug and scale up production in all low-income and middle-income countries, as well as some high-income nations, according to a Reuters report.

 

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