Daily Current Affairs - 18th Mar 2020

Airlines need $250-bn bailout: IATA

  • Global air travel demand is down by 94%, exposing airlines to a liquidity crisis as their revenues take a hit, while fixed costs and short term liabilities remain, IATA said, pegging the bailout package for carriers worldwide at approximately $200-250 billion.

All national camps except those preparing for Olympics postponed due to COVID-19

  • Sports Authority of India, SAI has decided to suspend academic training in National Centre of Excellence and Sports Training Centres till further orders in view of COVID-19. Sports Minister's Office said, all national camps will be postponed except for those where athletes are being trained for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

China begins withdrawal of medical staff from Wuhan after city records just one new case

  • China began withdrawing thousands of doctors and medical staff from Wuhan after the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak reported just one confirmed case. The first batch of medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei province early as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued.
  • According to official media, over 3,600 medical staffers belonging to 41 medical teams from across China have assisted 14 temporary hospitals and seven designated hospitals in Wuhan, the provincial capital and the epicentre of the outbreak.

Cricket Australia planning to host men's T20 World Cup as per schedule

  • Cricket Australia is planning to host the men's T20 World Cup as per schedule in October despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing a collapse of sports events worldwide. The novel coronavirus outbreak has shredded sports calendars worldwide, including international and domestic cricket. The men's T20 World Cup is slated to begin with the pre-qualifiers from October 18-23 followed by the main 12-team competition from October 24.
  • The final will be played on November 15 at the MCG and Cricket Australia is planning for a full house.

Euro-2020 football tournament postponed by one year due to COVID-19 threat

  • The Euro-2020 football tournament has been postponed by one year until 2021 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. This was stated by the Norwegian Football Association. It said that the decision was taken at an emergency video conference convened by European football's governing body, UEFA involving major stakeholders.
  • The Norwegian FA said, it was decided that the tournament will now take place from 11th June to 11th of July next year. The tournament was due to take place from 12th June to 12th of July this year at 12 venues across Europe.

FADA seeks SC nod for BS-IV sales till May 31

  • The Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) has approached the Supreme Court to seek an extension — of the March 31, 2020 deadline for the sale and registration of BS IV-compliant vehicles — by two months, citing a ‘drastic’ drop in customer footfalls and retail sales due to the COVID-19 scare.

France says, ready to nationalise firms to protect them from bankruptcy due to COVID-19 threat

  • France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that he was willing to nationalize large companies to protect them from bankruptcy while warning that the country faces recession this year as the Coronavirus epidemic sinks the economy. He announced a 45 billion euro (USD 50 billion) aid package to help businesses and employees cope with the escalating health crisis.

French Open tennis tournament postponed till September

  • The French Open Tennis has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will take place from 20th September to 4th October. Organisers said, the Grand Slam event was to have taken place from 24th May to 7th June.

Millions could die in Iran if public continues to ignore health guidance

  • Iran issued its most dire warning about the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus ravaging the country, suggesting millions could die in the Islamic Republic if the public keeps travelling and ignoring health guidance. Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a religious ruling prohibiting unnecessary travel in the country.
  • Roughly nine out of 10 of the over 18,000 cases of the new virus confirmed across the Middle East come from Iran. The virus had killed 135 more people to raise the total to 988 amid over 16,000 cases.

ONGC declares 100% dividend

  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has declared 100 per cent interim dividend and said it has sufficient funds to continue operations in an era of extreme volatility in oil prices. ONGC said the sudden and sharp decline in crude oil prices in the last few days had let to a lot of volatility in the sector.
  • The union government, which owns 62.78% stake in ONGC, will get Rs.3,949 crore in dividend and taxes.

PCB postpones Pakistan Super League amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • The Pakistan Cricket Board postponed the remainder of its premier T20 event - the Pakistan Super League - amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. The PSL had entered the knockout stages and semifinal matches were due to be played in Lahore.

Private NABL-accredited labs will soon be allowed to conduct coronavirus tests: ICMR

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that private NABL-accredited laboratories will soon be allowed to conduct tests for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection amid rising novel coronavirus cases in the country.
  • ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said the apex health research body of India has activated more laboratories to test for COVID-19 and revised the testing criteria. He also appealed to all private laboratories to offer COVID-19 diagnosis free of cost.
  • The ICMR has equipped 72 of its laboratories to test for the pandemic disease. In addition to these labs, 49 more under organisations like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and Defence Research, Development Organisation would be equipped to test for coronavirus by end of this week. These systems can test up to 1400 samples daily.

RBI to regulate payment aggregators

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it will regulate activities of payment aggregators (PAs) as they play a key role in facilitating payments in the online space. The move is likely to provide a major relief for payments industry players like Billdesk, CCAvenue, Firstdata, Techprocess, Razorpay, Cashfree, and others.
  • The central bank has also lowered the minimum capital requirements for payment aggregators to Rs 15 crore at the time of application for the licence from Rs 100 crore it had proposed earlier. The apex bank said that PAs should achieve a net-worth of Rs 15 crore by March 31, 2021 and a net-worth of Rs 25 crore by the end of the third financial year, i.e., on or before March 31, 2023. The net-worth of Rs 25 crore shall be maintained at all times thereafter.
  • PAs are entities that facilitate e-commerce sites and merchants to accept various payment instruments from the customers for completion of their payment obligations without the need for merchants to create a separate payment integration system of their own.

RBL Bank’s deposit base shrinks by 3%

  • The fall-out of Yes Bank’s moratorium has impacted RBL Bank’s deposit base, which contracted by 3% in one week due to withdrawal by two State government agencies.

S&P lowers India’s growth forecast to 5.2 per cent

  • S&P Global Ratings has lowered India’s economic growth forecast to 5.2 per cent for 2020, saying the global economy is entering a recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.The agency had earlier projected a growth rate of 5.7 per cent during the 2020 calendar.
  • It also stated that the Asia-Pacific economic growth in 2020 will more than halve to less than 3 per cent.
  • By recession, S&P meant at least two quarters of well below-trend growth sufficient to trigger rising unemployment. The countries most vulnerable to capital outflows remain India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

UK Unveils $400 Billion Stimulus, Tougher Measures After Virus Warning

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government unveiled a huge package of support for businesses to help them survive the introduction of tough new social measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak. Finance minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a 330 billion pound ($400 billion, 363 billion euros) package of loans for virus-hit business.
  • Confirmed UK cases have climbed to 1,950, with 69 deaths.

US Africa Command cancels annual military exercise African Lion

  • The annual African Lion military exercise became the latest casualty of the global novel coronavirus pandemic with this year's event being cancelled. The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said that the decision to cancel the exercise was made based on international travel restrictions associated with the novel coronavirus and to minimize the risk of exposure to US and partner nation service members.
  • African Lion had been scheduled to take place from March 23 to April 4 in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, with nearly 4,000 US service members and about 5,000 troops from Morocco.

US places new leader of Islamic State group on blacklist

  • United States has placed the new leader of the Islamic State group on its blacklist of terrorists, naming him as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that al-Mawli was named leader of the ultra-violent group after an October raid by US commandos killed its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

World Bank increases COVID-19 response funding to 14 bln USD

  • World Bank has announced 14 billion US Dollars to assist companies and countries in their efforts to respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19. It has added 2 billion dollars to the initial package. The announcement came amid fear of a major global recession in the wake of the coronavirus that has impacted more than 120 countries. The package will strengthen national systems for public health preparedness, including for disease containment, diagnosis and treatment, and support the private sector.
  • World Bank President David Malpass

Yes Bank all set to lift deposit withdrawal cap

  • Private sector lender Yes Bank has assured all its customers they need not worry about their deposits after the moratorium is lifted, as branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) will have adequate cash. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had imposed a withdrawal cap of Rs.50,000 on March 5 which will be lifted from tomorrow 6 pm.