Relief for BSNL, MTNL users: Prepaid validity extended till April 20

State-owned telecom operators and will extend validity period of their prepaid mobile services till April 20 and offer Rs 10 additional talktime even after zero balance, to enable users, especially poor and underprivileged, to stay connected during the 21-day nationwide

“This will enable poor people make calls for help even if they don’t have any balance left,” Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a tweet.

The minister also took stock of performance of essential services under the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Department of Post, with heads of circles from all states through a video-conference on Monday.

“During the video conference, took feedback on functioning of their essential services during #21daysLockdown from heads of circles of and India Post. Exhorted them to rise to the occasion and set new benchmarks in public service as #IndiaFightsCorona,” the minister tweeted.

In a statement, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) said it will offer free validity extension for prepaid mobile subscribers who were unable to recharge after their validity expired during the period, and also provide free talktime worth Rs 10 to those with zero

Read More

Defaulting promoters may get lifeline, lenders may defer pledged share sale

Several promoter entities that are facing a deadline of March 31 to either repay loans or lose control over their companies, are likely to get a lifeline with public sector lenders planning a “deep restructuring” of their loans.

A banker said loan restructuring may be needed for some firms whose shares have been pledged as security for credit, and are finding it difficult to meet regulator norms like maintaining cover. “But this is not a blanket policy and will be implemented on a case-by-case basis,” he added.

A senior State Bank of India official said whatever changes in repayment done in restructured cases will not be considered as second restructuring. “There is case of disruption for three months due to which lenders may tweak schedules on case-by-case basis,” the official said.

Further, accounts granted relief will undergo supervisory review for justifiability on account of the economic fallout of Covid-19. “The intention is very clear not to push any non-performing asset under the carpet. Wherever there is genuine need, can go ahead with whatever they want to do,” SBI executive said.

ALSO READ: Hundreds of migrant workers defy

Read More

Tea companies may lose Rs 2000 cr this year due to coronavirus outbreak

in the country maybe heading towards a consolidated loss of around Rs 2000 crore this calendar year as all estates have been shut to contain spread of the deadly

While the estates were initially kept open with plantation argueing that the risk of infection was extremely low on the estates, the call was taken following the announcement of the 21-day shutdown by the government and various state governments passing orders for lockdown.

All of the 1422 registered tea estates and more than 250,000 micro-small planters have stopped production citing safety precautions for workers, unavailability of transport to ferry finished tea and practically no demand either domestically or from importing countries.

“At the moment it is of utmost importance to stop the spread of and estates are thus closed,” Arun Kumar Ray, deputy chairman, Tea Board.

Rough estimates from plantation have pegged production loss in excess of 100 million kg (mkg) across India which is valued at around Rs 2000 crore. Usually, plantation companies in Assam and West Bengal produce around 15 per cent of the total tea during March-April.

Read More

New order facilitating doorstep delivery of drugs confuses e-pharma firms

A recent notification from the Mnistry of Health and Family Welfare could adversely impact online pharmacies and retail deliveries, making it difficult for them to deliver medicines, even though by definition both fall under “essential services,” as allowed by government under lockdown.

The notification, dated March 26, lays down these conditions- that a person licensed to sell and deliver drugs will have to submit an e-mail ID for registration with the licensing authority if prescriptions are to be received through email, the drugs be supplied at the doorstep of the patients located within the same revenue district where the company holding the license to sell is located,and in case of chronic diseases, the prescription will be valid for medicine delivery only if it is presented to the drug retailer within 30 days of its issue. In acute cases, the prescription will be valid only if it is presented to licensee within seven days of its issue.

The industry has raised concerns with these, considering that delivery of medicines is often facilitated by online marketplaces, which connects sellers and customers, on the same lines as a Flipkart or Amazon. In such cases,

Read More

Fewer hits than misses in FMCG as demand and supply concerns weigh

Even as many sectors are under pressure due to Covid-19, some like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are believed to be in relatively better shape. Factors such as nature of products, likely margin support from lower input costs with a sharp correction in crude oil prices, augur well for the sector. This is why, in the last 10 trading sessions, the index has fallen 1.2 per cent, which is way better than the over 10 per cent fall in the Nifty50 during the same period. However, the road ahead is unlikely to be smooth, as the demand and supply related issues would take a toll on the sector’s overall performance till the June 2020 quarter.

While some segments like hygiene, home care and packaged foods would see demand spurt and rural-focused players could gain from the government’s package for farmers and the poor, the 21-day nationwide announced on Tuesday could have implications on supply chain and overall demand.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus LIVE: Govt stimulus to cover 800 mn Indians amid lockdown

Dhaval Dama, analyst at Equirus Securities says, “A curfew or situation would impact the supply chain process with

Read More

Indian LNG importers issue force majeure notices as gas demand slumps

Indian liquefied natural gas (LNG) importers have issued force majeure notices to suppliers as domestic gas demand and port operations are hit by a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, industry sources told Reuters.

Any reduction in purchases by India, Asia’s third largest economy and one of the top importers of the super-chilled fuel, are likely to further hit prices, already battered by a drop in demand in China, where the virus emerged.

India imposed a sweeping lockdown of its 1.3 billion people on Wednesday for 21 days, and is only allowing the supply of essential commodities. The move prompted several industries to shut operations and some ports in the country to declare force majeure.

This in turn is spilling into the market, several of the sources said.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus LIVE: India cases top 600 as govt counts financial cost

India’s top gas importer has served a force majeure notice on Qatargas and is seeking delayed delivery of cargoes, two sources said. “Gas demand has reduced drastically and it is likely to go down further,” a source with gas utility GAIL

Read More