Source: IBEF News Letter

Cabinet approves developing of Affordable rental housing Complexes for urban migrants / poor
09.07.2020

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for developing of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) for urban migrants/poor as a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY – U) by:

existing vacant government funded housing complexes will be converted in ARHCs through Concession Agreements for 25 years. Concessionaire will make the complexes liveable by repair/retrofit and maintenance of rooms and filling up infrastructure gaps like water, sewer/ septage, sanitation, road etc. States/UTs will select concessionaire through transparent bidding. Complexes will revert to ULB after 25 years to restart next cycle like earlier or run on their own.

special incentives like use permission, 50 per cent additional FAR/FSI, concessional loan at priority sector lending rate, tax reliefs at par with affordable housing etc. will be offered to private/ public entities to develop ARHCs on their own available vacant land for 25 years.

A large part of workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, domestic/commercial establishments, and construction or other sectors, labourers, students etc. who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities will be the target beneficiary under ARHCs.

An expenditure of Rs 600 crore (US$ 85.12 million) is estimated in the form of Technology Innovation Grant which will be released for projects using identified innovative technologies for construction. Approximately, three lakh beneficiaries will be covered initially under ARHCs.

ARHCs will create new ecosystem in urban areas making housing available at affordable rent close to the place of work. Investment under ARHCs is expected to create new job opportunities. ARHCs will cut down unnecessary travel, congestion, and pollution.

Government funded vacant housing stock will be converted into ARHCs for economically productive use. The scheme would create a conducive environment for Entities to develop AHRCs on their own vacant land which will enable new investment opportunities and promote entrepreneurship in rental housing sector.

Background:

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has initiated an Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) for urban migrants/poor as a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). The scheme was announced by the Hon’ble Finance Minister on 14 May 2020. This scheme seeks to fulfill the vision of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’.

COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive reverse migration of workers/ urban poor in the country who come from rural areas or small towns for seeking better employment opportunities in urban areas. Usually, these migrants live in slums, informal/ unauthorized colonies, or peri-urban areas to save rental charges. They spend lot of time on roads by walking/ cycling to workplaces, risking their lives to cut on the expenses.

Cabinet approves extension of time limit for availing the benefits of “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana” for Ujjwala beneficiaries by three months w.e.f.

01.07.2020

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for extension of time limit by three months w.e.f. 01.07.2020 for availing the benefits of “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana” for Ujjwala beneficiaries

The Government had announced a relief package ” Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana” aimed at providing a safety net to the poor and vulnerable who had been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The package also included relief for poor families who had availed of an LPG connection under PMUY. Under the PMGKY-Ujjwala, it was decided to provide free of cost refills for PMUY consumers for a period of 3 months w.e.f. 01.04.2020.

Under the Scheme, Rs 9,709.86 crore (US$ 1.38 billion) was transferred directly into the bank accounts of Ujjwala beneficiaries during April- June 2020 and 11.97 crore cylinders were delivered to the PMUY beneficiaries. The scheme went a long way to ameliorate the suffering and disruption caused due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

On review of the scheme, it has been observed that a section of PMUY beneficiaries are yet to utilize the advance credited into their account to purchase the cylinder refill within the scheme period. Hence, the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to extend the time-limit for availing the advance by three months. This will benefit those PMUY beneficiaries who have been credited with the advance for buying the cylinder but have not been able to purchase the refill. Thus, the beneficiaries who already have the advance transferred to their account can now take the free refill delivery till 30th September.

Cabinet approves capital infusion for the three Public Sector General Insurance Companies – Oriental Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister; Mr Narendra Modi has approved the capital infusion for an overall value of Rs 12,450 crore (US$ 1.77 billion); (including Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) infused in FY20) in the three Public Sector General Insurance Companies (PSGICs) namely Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OlCL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL) but of which Rs 3,475 crore (US$ 492.98 million) will be released immediately; while the balance Rs 6,475 crore (US$ 918.57 million) will be infused later. Cabinet also approved increase in authorised share capital of NICL to Rs 7,500 crore (US$ 1.06 billion) and that of UIICL and OlCL to Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 709.32 million) respectively to give effect to the capital infusion. Further, the process of merger has been ceased so far in view of the current scenario and instead, the focus shall be on their profitable growth.

Impact

The capital infusion will enable the three PSGICs to improve their financial and solvency position, meet the insurance needs of the economy, absorb changes, and enhance the capacity to raise resources and improved risk management.

Financial implications:

In the current financial year, the immediate financial implication would be Rs 3,475 crore (US$ 492.98 million) as a result of capital infusion in three PSGICs namely OlCL, NICL and UIICL as the first tranche which will be followed by Rs 6,475 crore (US$ 918.57 million).

Way forward:

To ensure optimum utilization of the capital being provided, the Government has issued guidelines in the form of KPIs aimed at bringing business efficiency and profitable growth. In the meanwhile, given the current scenario, the process of merger has been ceased so far and/instead focus shall be on their solvency and profitable growth, post capital infusion.

National COVID-19 Recovery Rate continues to sharply improve; touches 61.53 per cent

09.07.2020

The number of samples being tested for detection of COVID-19 is substantially growing every day. During the last 24 hours, 2,62,679 samples have been tested of which more than 53,000 samples have been tested in private labs. The cumulative number of samples tested, as of now is 1,04,73,771. As a result, the tests per million today stand at 7180. This is because of the sharply focussed “Test, Trace, Treat” strategy of the central Government, in coordination with the States/UTs.

A crucial component in the appreciable growth in the COVID-19 testing is the increased number of diagnostic labs across the country. With 795 labs in the government sector and 324 private labs, there are as many as 1119 labs in the country. These include:

Real-Time RT PCR based testing labs: 600 (Govt: 372 + Private: 228)

TrueNat based testing labs: 426 (Govt: 390 + Private: 36)

CBNAAT based testing labs: 93 (Govt: 33 + Private: 60)

Growing healthcare infrastructure of various types of COVID facilities adequately supported by ICU and oxygen supported beds, ventilators and other equipment has facilitated and ensured timely detection and effective clinical management of COVID-19 positive cases. With more COVID-19 patients recovering, the gap between the number of recovered cases and active cases has increased by 1,91,886 as on date.

During the last 24 hours, a total of 16,883 COVID-19 patients have been cured, taking the cumulative figure of recovered cases to 4,56,830 so far.

The rate of recovery among COVID-19 patients continues to increase over the days. It has touched 61.53 per cent today.

Presently, there are 2,64,944 active cases and all are under medical supervision.

For all authentic and updated information on COVID-19 related technical issues, guidelines & advisories please regularly visit: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/ and @MoHFW_INDIA.

Technical queries related to COVID-19 may be sent to technicalquery.covid19@gov.in and other queries on ncov2019@gov.in and @CovidIndiaSeva.

In case of any queries on COVID-19, please call at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare helpline no.: +91-11-23978046 or 1075 (Toll-free).

List of helpline numbers of States/UTs on COVID-19 is also available at

https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/coronvavirushelplinenumber.pdf.

Amazon parent invests Rs 2,310 crore in Indian unit

09.07.2020

Amazon.com, Inc. has invested about Rs 2,310 crore (US$ 327.71 million) into Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd, its marketplace unit in India, according to filings with the corporate affairs ministry.

These new funds are expected to help the US e-commerce giant to expand its seller network in India, where a three-month-long strict lockdown aimed at curbing COVID-19 has severely disrupted businesses.

Amazon Corporate Holdings Pvt. Ltd, a Singapore entity, and Amazon.com has made the investment, which was approved by the board of Amazon Seller Services at a meeting on 25 June.

This is the second investment done by the company this year in the Indian marketplace. In January 2020, the company infused over Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) into Amazon Seller Services and Amazon Data Services India.

According to the latest data available, Amazon Seller Services decreased its loss 9.5 per cent year-on-year to Rs 5,685 crore (US$ 806.50 million) for fiscal year 2018-19. Revenues surged 55 per cent to Rs 7,778 crore (US$ 1.10 billion) in 2018-19.

Amazon founder Mr Jeff Bezos pledged US$ 1 billion in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online, as he pulled out all the stops to encourage local merchants, and the government amid regulatory scrutiny and protests by traders.

These investments are expected to help around 10 million small and medium businesses, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops, and brands.

More than 600,000 sellers are currently listed on the Amazon marketplace.

In April 2020, the online retailer announced plans to invest Rs 10 crore (US$ 1.42 million) in ramping up a pilot programme that saw Amazon Seller Services reach out to 5,000 local stores selling electronics, apparel, toys, furniture, grocery, home furnishings, to list on its platform as the company continues to expand its range of sellers and products.

The company has extended its work with India’s small business owners, manufacturers, and suppliers. It has been working in attracting more sellers and partnering into its fold to grow its share in the country’s retail market.

In the meantime, large Indian e-commerce firms have been moving up to provide increased support to their seller ecosystem, to guarantee business continuity, after the lockdowns heavily impacted the operations of small and medium-sized businesses.

Amazon has Walmart-owned Flipkart as its competitor in India. Flipkart has also been ramping up its seller network.

As the offline retail has become challenging with current situation, online retail is gaining momentum with the gradual unlocking of businesses.

In May 2020, Amazon said that its India operations were the worst-affected across all its operations worldwide by the pandemic as the Indian government ordered the company to halt the sales of almost all items but groceries during the lockdown that was first imposed on 25 March.

Best Regards,

Manoranjan Sahu
Attache(Economic & Commerce)
Embassy of India, Bangkok
46 Soi Sukhumvit 23, Bangkok – 10110 (Thailand)
T: +66 2 2580029 (Direct), +66 2 2580300-06 (Extn. 162)
F: +66 2 2584627
Email: com.bangkok@mea.gov.in