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13 April Current Affairs

Webinar on Covid-19 Response by TRIFED

In News:

Recently, the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) organized a Webinar in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Key Points :-

The webinar was organised for Virtual training of TRIFED Trainers and Self Help Groups (SHGs) on basic orientation on Covid-19 response and key preventive measures to ensure that tribal gatherers carry on their work safely.

To create awareness among the community about social distancing and steps to be followed.

Do’s and Don’ts Advisories during collection of Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP).

To provide suggestive practices for maintaining personal hygiene, adopting cashless practices, etc.

To reach more than 18,000 participants and cover tribal regions across all the 27 States.

The collaboration helped in developing a digital communication strategy for promoting a digital campaign and highlighting the importance of Social Distancing.

Other Measures:

UNICEF is providing the necessary support to the SHG Centers in the form of Digital Multimedia content, Webinars for Virtual training, Social Media campaigns and Vanya Radio.

TRIFED has also reached out to the Art of Living Foundation’s #iStandWithHumanity Initiative to include a Stand With Tribal Families  component which will provide food and ration for survival of the tribal community.

Promotion of 15,000 SHGs as Van Dhan Social Distancing Awareness cum Livelihood Centers’ through a digital training program. Over 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers will be involved in the scheme.

A total of 1205 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs) have been sanctioned in 27 States and 1 Union territory involving around 18,075 Van Dhan Self Help Groups.

Rs. 15000 Crore Sanctioned to States

In News:

Recently, the Central Government has sanctioned ₹15,000 crore to States under the India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package.

Key Points :-

The package is a 100% centrally-funded scheme and the funds will be provided under a mission mode approach.

Amount of ₹7774 crore will be utilised for immediate Covid-19 Emergency Response and rest will be used for medium-term support (1-4 years).

The amount of ₹4113 crore has already been disbursed to all the States and Union Territories (UTs) dealing with the emergency response to the pandemic.

Objective:

  1. a) Mounting emergency response through development of diagnostics and dedicated treatment facilities.
  2. b) Strengthening pandemic research, community engagement, risk communication and implementation
  3. c) Management, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation.

Reasons for Strained State Finances :-

Fall in the revenues due to the lockdown and higher spending due to the coping measures against novel coronavirus pandemic.

There are no buyers for state bonds, and goods and services tax collections are down, revenues from fuel, liquor, stamp duty and registration charges are also down.

At the same time, the states are incurring bulk of the on-the-ground expenditures on containing Covid-19.

States are currently mandated to keep their fiscal deficits within 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Talks on Oil Cut Deal at G-20

In News:

Recently, at G20 talks, top oil nations pushed to finalise a deal on oil cuts to lift prices slashed by the coronavirus crisis.

Key Points:

Measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices.

It strained the budgets of oil producers and also affected the U.S. shale industry which is more vulnerable to low prices due to its higher costs.

Saudi Arabia and Russia and its allies (OPEC + group), had forged a pact to curb crude production by the equivalent of 10% of global supplies.

They also want other producers including the United States and Canada to cut a further 5%.

The crisis in the oil market has pushed Russia and Saudi Arabia to patch up differences after their hostile meeting in March, 2020.

The dispute over how best to tackle falling prices led them to scrap their existing pact on production restraint that had helped balance the oil market for three years.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) :-

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

It aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil in the world market, in order to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.

It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.

As of April 2020, OPEC has a total of 13 Member Countries viz. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Venezuela are members of OPEC.

NBFCs Face Moratorium Issue with Banks

In News:

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) may face a tough time following the Reserve Bank of India’s recent directive on providing a moratorium on repayment.

This is because though these entities are providing moratoriums to their customers, they still have to continue repaying banks and other borrowers.

Key Points:

Banks are not willing to offer any moratorium on term loans taken by the NBFCs. This has put significant pressure on liquidity profiles of many NBFCs.

A significant part of money disbursed by NBFCs is loan taken from banks.

Moratorium simply refers to a legal authorisation to existing borrowers to defer or postpone their loan repayments for a predetermined period.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had asked banks, co-operative banks and NBFCs to offer a three-month moratorium on loan repayments by their customers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown.

The RBI has not specifically said NBFCs should not be given moratorium by banks.

While a few banks are inclined to offer moratorium on NBFC loans, some of the big banks have ruled out any such facility.

The NBFCs have already been facing liquidity problems due to the the IL&FS and DHFL crises.

Total bank loan outstandings to Non-Banking Financial Company(NBFC) sector were Rs.7,37,198 crore as of January 31,2020 showing a rise of 32.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

Collections from customers have declined due to the lockdown, closure of units and job losses.

Almost 60% of NBFC borrowings are from non-bank sources and require continuity in debt servicing.

Debt service is the cash that is required to cover the repayment of interest and principal on a debt for a particular period.

Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Move:

The RBI has made available Rs 1 lakh crore through its targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO) window.

Corporates and government-owned financiers will also be interested in this window.

Only higher rated NBFCs may end up benefiting.

Industry chamber Assocham has proposed a special liquidity window for NBFCs, but the RBI has not shown any inclination so far.

Meal Scheme Hit Due to Lockdown

In News:

Due to Covid-19 lockdown, implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is affected in large pockets across Maharashtra.

Key Points :-

Anganwadis are closed due to lockdown and the delivery of Hot Cooked Meals (HCM) has completely halted in some pockets.

In some areas of the State, beneficiaries are beginning to receive grocery supplies instead of Hot Cooked Meals (HCM). However, there are wide complaints of inadequate supplies.

Even, the districts where malnutrition is a recurring problem haven’t received the grocery material.

On 31st March, 2020, ICDS Commissionerate ordered that the HCM be replaced by grocery packages.

Where the material (grocery packages) has arrived there are multiple operational problems.

In many villages it’s not possible to go door-to-door, houses are far apart.

It is being said that the government is not providing any additional funds for gloves and masks.

Beneficiaries are gathering at the anganwadi, which is hampering social distancing.

Another dilemma is that the grocery packages will most certainly be consumed by the entire household. Women who are pregnant or lactating, could benefit the least as they’re generally the last to eat.

India-Pak Tension Amidst Covid-19

In News:

Recently, India has said that the degree of seriousness of each South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member-nation in collectively fighting the Covid-19pandemic can be gauged by their behaviour.

The statement is in clear reference to Pakistan’s opposition to India’s leadership in dealing with the crisis in the region.

Key Points:

Pakistan has pledged to contribute $3 million to SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund.

Pakistan has also demanded that any initiative to deal with the situation must be brought under SAARC’s framework and utilised in accordance with the SAARC charter.

Pakistan also boycotted a video conference of trade officials of the SAARC members.

It has said that these initiatives would only be effective if these are headed by the group’s secretariat and not by India.

India has maintained that such initiatives (formation of emergency fund) are taken under extraordinary circumstances which are focused on jointly fighting an issue or problem without the limitations of procedural formalities.

Each member nation has the right to decide on the timing, manner and implementation of their SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund commitments.

India’s Role:

India has taken the lead role in taking preventive measures against the novel coronavirus crisis in the region.

In March, India proposed an Covid-19 Emergency Fund in the video conference of SAARC members on forming a joint strategy to fight Covid-19.

The Fund would be based on a voluntary contribution from all SAARC members.

Indian Prime Minister contributed $10 million to the fund.

Following Indian lead ,subsequently, Nepal and Afghanistan ($1 million each), Maldives ($200,000), Bhutan ($100,000), Bangladesh ($1.5 million) and Sri Lanka ($5 million) also pledged to contribute to the fund.

The fund is used to meet the cost of immediate actions by any member and will be coordinated through foreign secretaries and embassies of the member countries.

India has also extended assistance in materials and services to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives (Operation Sanjeevani), Nepal and Sri Lanka keeping in mind their early commitments to the fund and serious behaviour.

 

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