Daily Current Affairs - 31st Mar 2020

ADB announces 100 million US Dollars funding for Indian infrastructure sector

  • Multilateral institution Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced a 100 million US Dollars funding for the Indian infrastructure sector through the government-promoted National Investment and Infrastructure Fund-NIIF.
  • ADB will be investing in NIIF, tranche of funds, which will ensure that the actual money invested will be a few times more than the 100 million dollars.

Australian PM announces 130 bn dollar package to support wages as COVID-19 deaths rise to 18

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 130 billion dollar package to support the wages of up to 6 million citizens in the country affected by the COVID-19. 4,000 across the nation have been infected so far with 18 deaths.
  • The package will see the government pay wage subsidies of 1,500 Australian dollars every two weeks per employee to help businesses keep people employed.

China's central bank cut interest rate on loans to banks by largest margin in 5 years

  • China's central bank cut an interest rate on loans to banks by the largest margin in five years and injected 50 billion yuans into the financial system to help the world's second-largest economy weather the coronavirus impact.
  • The People's Bank of China said, it launched a 50-billion-yuan reverse repurchase operation and lowered the seven-day reverse repurchase rate from 2.40 per cent to 2.20 per cent.

Coronavirus: Italy extends lockdown until 'at least' April 12

  • Italy has extended lockdown until April 12 to stem coronavirus infections that have claimed a world-leading 11,591 lives so far. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that any easing of containment measures will be done incrementally to ensure Italy does not give up gains it has made against the extraordinary disease. The daily rate of new infections dropped to 4.1 per cent - a fraction of the 62 per cent level registered a month ago.
  • Italy is the first Western nation to impose sweeping restrictions to stem the pandemic.

COVID-19: Health and Family Welfare Ministry issues advisory for senior citizens

  • In the wake of growing COVID-19 cases in the country, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has issued an advisory for the senior citizens in this regard. The people who are above 60 year of age are required to take more care as they are at a higher risk for severe illness from Coronavirus.
  • Such persons should be regularly monitored for symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty in breathing. Family members have been advised not to allow visitors at home and do not shake hands or hug as a matter of greeting.

COVID-19: OMCs announce Ex-Gratia of Rs 5 Lakh for delivery boys and others working in LPG supply chain

  • Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have announced an Ex-Gratia of five lakh rupees each for delivery boys and others working in LPG supply chain. The decision was taken by Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.
  • This one-time special measure has been made in the unfortunate case of demise of personnel like show-room staff, godown-keepers, mechanics and delivery boys, attending duty in the LPG distributorship chain during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • LPG being an essential commodity has been exempted from the lock-down, and personnel are required to attend duty during this crisis period to maintain uninterrupted LPG cylinder supplies across the country to all customers.

Expo 2020 Dubai could be postponed by a year

  • Expo 2020 organizers are mulling the postponement of the mega event by one year in light of the global pandemic COVID-19’s impact on the worldwide economy. Expo 2020 is a World Expo to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled to be opened on 20th October, 2020. UAE has spent billions on infrastructure in preparation.

Govt exempts all central govt employees from biometric attendance till further orders

  • The Union Government has exempted from biometric attendance till further orders all central government employees. Earlier the central government employees had been exempted from biometric attendance till March 31st.

Govt extends crop loan interest benefits to farmers till May 31

  • In the wake of national lockdown due to Covid-19, the Union Government has extended the benefit of two per cent Interest Subvention to Banks and three per cent Prompt Repayment Incentive to all farmers upto 31st of May this year. The interest subsidy has been extended to all crop loans upto 3 lakh rupees given by banks which have become due or are becoming due between 1st of this month to 31st May, 2020.
  • Government is providing concessional crop loans to farmers through banks with 2 per cent interest subvention to banks and 3 per cent additional benefit on timely repayment to farmers thus providing loans upto 3 lakh rupees at 4 per cent per annum interest on timely repayment.

Govt extends crop loan interest benefits to farmers till May 31

  • In the wake of national lockdown due to Covid-19, the Union Government has extended the benefit of two per cent Interest Subvention to Banks and three per cent Prompt Repayment Incentive to all farmers upto 31st of May this year. The interest subsidy has been extended to all crop loans upto 3 lakh rupees given by banks which have become due or are becoming due between 1st of this month to 31st May, 2020.
  • Government is providing concessional crop loans to farmers through banks with 2 per cent interest subvention to banks and 3 per cent additional benefit on timely repayment to farmers thus providing loans upto 3 lakh rupees at 4 per cent per annum interest on timely repayment.

ITTF suspends events till June 30, freezes world rankings

  • The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has suspended all planned events till June 30 and froze the world rankings due to the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ITTF said in a statement that due to the continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19 pandemic and postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games, the Executive Committee decided to suspend all currently planned ITTF events and activities that involve international travel until 30th of June.

Lenders approve Suzlon’s debt resolution proposal

  • Suzlon Energy has received lenders’ approval for its debt resolution plan under the Reserve Bank of India (Prudential Framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets) Directions, 2019. Currently, the company's total debt from the lenders stands at around Rs 12,900 crore.
  • Besides, the company has called a meeting of bondholders to approve the resolution plan for outstanding USD 172 million borrowed from them via bonds.

Mandatory for cable operators to carry 25 DD, RS and LS TV channels: I&B Ministry

  • Information and broadcasting ministry has notified 25 Doordarshan channels as well as Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha channels which are to be mandatorily carried by the Multiple System Operators (MSOs) and cable operators on their cable TV network.
  • An advisory issued by the ministry said that non-carriage of these notified channels are liable for action under the cable act. Accordingly, all MSOs and cable operators are directed to mandatorily carry these channels.

NRIs can now invest in specified govt. bonds

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced a separate channel, namely ‘Fully Accessible Route’ (FAR), to enable non-residents to invest in specified government bonds with effect from April 1.
  • The RBI stated that the eligible investors can invest in specified government securities without being subject to any investment ceilings.

PSU banks ask branches to work full hours

  • After being prodded by the Finance Ministry, state-owned banks have directed their branches to ensure that the staff are present in full strength from Tuesday and that the branches remain open for regular business hours in anticipation of the higher footfall this week, especially in rural and semi-urban branches where digital banking facilities are not being availed extensively.
  • Full staffing advised to help banks cope with pay day rush, DBT withdrawals in rural areas.

SEBI relaxes debt default norms, raters can go easy

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has relaxed guidelines applicable to credit rating agencies (CRAs) for default recognition amid loan moratorium granted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) due to amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The markets regulator said it felt a need for temporary relaxations in compliance by CRAs in view of the developments arising due to Covid-19 pandemic and in light of the moratorium permitted by RBI on loan servicing, working capital facilities etc. for three months.
  • Based on its assessment, if the CRA is of the view that the delay in payment of interest/principle has arisen solely due to the lockdown conditions creating temporary operational challenges in servicing debt, including due to procedural delays in approval of moratorium on loans by the lending institutions, CRAs may not consider the same as a default event and/or recognize default.
  • Sebi also granted a further extension of 30 days to the CRAs for making annual and semi-annual disclosures on its website for the period ended March 2020.

Total number of confirmed cases rises to 1251 in India: Health Ministry

  • The Union Health Ministry has confirmed that 1251 positive cases of corona virus in the country. Out of these, 102 patients have been cured and discharged. A total 32 deaths have been confirmed by the Ministry. Indian Council of Medical Research has given its approval to 123 government laboratories and 47 Private laboratories chain to conduct the test of Covid-19.

Total number of confirmed cases rises to 1251 in India: Health Ministry

  • The Union Health Ministry has confirmed that 1251 positive cases of corona virus in the country. Out of these, 102 patients have been cured and discharged. A total 32 deaths have been confirmed by the Ministry. Indian Council of Medical Research has given its approval to 123 government laboratories and 47 Private laboratories chain to conduct the test of Covid-19.

U.S. virus crisis will get worse: Trump

  • President Donald Trump has extended emergency coronavirus restrictions for the U.S., where his top scientist warned up to 2,00,000 people could die. President Donald Trump has said federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least 30 April.
  • The US now has more than 153,000 confirmed cases. As of Monday afternoon, 2,828 deaths had been recorded in the country in relation to Covid-19, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.