G7 to deploy all policy tools to combat coronavirus

TOKYO: Group of Seven finance officials said on Tuesday they would use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable global growth and safeguard against downside risks posed by the fast-spreading coronavirus.
G7 finance ministers were ready to take action, including fiscal measures where appropriate, to aid the response, Japanese finance minister Taro Aso told reporters. Central banks would continue to support price stability and economic growth.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to adopt all appropriate policy steps to protect the economy from downside risks posed by the coronavirus, and that we stand ready to cooperate further on timely and effective measures,” Aso said after a G7 call.
He was short on specifics and said the desirable policy response would vary from country to country.
Asked if all appropriate policy steps would include both monetary and fiscal policies, Aso said: “Yes, anything will be included, both monetary and fiscal steps.”
The G7’s united front offset anxiety over the coronavirus’ rapid spread in dozens of countries and aided a recovery in world stocks and oil prices.
“This is a tug of war between hope and fear. Central banks are giving hopes with their potential stimulus,” said Vasu Menon, senior investment strategist at OCBC Bank Wealth Management.
“The question is what they will do? Monetary policy is already very loose and interest rates are very low,” Menon added.
German finance minister Olaf Scholz said the G7 had “all means” at its disposal.
“Should the need arise, we have all the means to counter a global downturn,” Scholz said in a statement on Twitter.
Global stocks suffered a rout last week on fears that the disruption to supply chains, factory output and global travel caused by the epidemic could deal a serious blow to a world economy trying to recover from the US-China trade war.
The coronavirus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has spread around the world over the past week, with more new cases now appearing outside China than within.
There are more than 90,000 cases globally, with more than 80,000 of them in China, and infections appearing in 77 other countries and territories, with Ukraine the latest country to report its first case.
China’s death toll is 2,943, with more than 75 deaths elsewhere.
Containment success
New cases in China have been falling sharply, with 125 reported on Tuesday, thanks to aggressive containment measures.
After what critics said was an initially hesitant response, China imposed sweeping restrictions, including suspensions of transport, sealing off communities, and extending a Lunar New Year holiday across the country.
Now China is increasingly concerned about the virus being brought back into the country by citizens returning from new hot spots elsewhere. Authorities on Tuesday asked overseas Chinese to reconsider or minimise their plans to travel home.
All travelers entering Beijing from South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy would have to be quarantined for 14 days, a city official said. Shanghai has introduced a similar order.
The most serious outbreak outside China is in South Korea where President Moon Jae-in declared war on the virus, ordering additional hospital beds and more masks as cases rose by 600 to nearly 5,000. Thirty-four people have died in South Korea.
In the United States, the virus is now believed to be present in at least four communities in the Pacific Northwest – two in northern California, one in Oregon and one in Washington state – and authorities there are having to go well beyond the quarantine of infected travelers and tracing of close contacts, which until now had been the response.
Six people have died in the Seattle outbreak. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists more than 90 cases across the United States, a large bulk of them patients repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that had been quarantined in Japan.
Iran reported infections rising to 1,501, with 66 deaths, including a senior official.
The death toll in Italy jumped to 52 on Monday from 34 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases in Europe’s worst-affected country climbed past the 2,000 mark.
Germany reported 31 new infections, taking its tally to 188.

Source link

Read More

Disinfect aircraft coming from Japan, South Korea, Italy before starting boarding for next flight: DGCA

NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made it mandatory for aircraft flying in from Italy, South Korea and Japan to India to be disinfected thoroughly. All incoming passengers on these flights to India will need to be screened and if any flyer shows symptoms of coronavirus, then the aircraft will have to undergo a more stringent disinfection process.
Boarding of passengers for the next flight supposed to be operated on these aircraft will begin only after the disinfcetion process has been carried out, says an order issued by DGCA on Tuesday evening.
“In case of disembarkation, passengers from Italy, Japan and South Korea or from a flight wherein a passenger has been identified as a suspect for COVID-19 at non aerobridge bay, and a vehicle has been utilised for transportation of passengers from bay to the terminal building, all such vehicles should also be subjected to (stringent) disinfection/ cleaning process. The similar process shall also be adopted in case of wheelchair used by a COVID-19 suspect passenger,” the order says.
The regulator has mandated providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for people working at airports and operating flights. “Crew members are constantly working in an environment which has potential for exposure to COVID-19. In order to prevent any form of infection to crew members, all (airlines) are advised to issue the following guidelines/instructions for the crew: practice personal hygiene and mandatory use of PPE on (some) sectors. It is advisable to maximum extent possible that PPE be used by crew on all flights. Infection control measures including traceability of crew should be well documented in the event of crew members being exposed to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case,” it says.
The regulator has directed that all staff at airport like immigration, health, security, check-in counter staff who are exposed to potential or possibly infected passengers or co-workers “should be mandatorily provided with PPE”.
It has also asked airport operators to have “adequate hand sanitising facilities at multiple locations including check-in counters, terminal exit areas, at thermal screening points for the use of staff and passengers. Operators to ensure that adequate PPE are available on board all the aircraft for distribution to passengers on need or request basis for international and domestic sectors both. The above is for strict compliance by all concerned,” it says.
All personnel involved in aircraft cleaning activity will have to provided with PPE such as surgical mask, gloves and disposable shoe covers. “All personnel should also be made aware of the correct usage and disposal of PPE as a potential biohazard. Preventive disinfection process of aircraft should be carried out by use of alcohol based agent as per the WHO guidelines,” the order adds.

Source link

Read More

Telcos pay over Rs 8,000 crore to government in dues; DoT to write to firms questioning AGR gap

NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio on Tuesday paid cumulative over Rs 6,000 crore to the government towards deferred spectrum dues while Tatas said it has deposited another Rs 2,000 crore for ad hoc statutory liabilities.
The development came as DoT (department of telecom) prepared to send out fresh missive to telcos questioning them about discrepancies in AGR (adjusted gross revenue) dues assessed by firms and its own calculations.
On Tuesday, Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) CEO and managing director Ravinder Takkar again met telecom secretary Anshu Prakash although he remained tightlipped about the meeting.
While crisis-ridden VIL has paid about Rs 3,043 crore to the telecom department for deferred spectrum dues — essentially instalment payments that are made by telcos for airwaves bought in past auctions — Bharti Airtel submitted Rs 1,950 crore and Reliance Jio Rs 1,053 crore towards the same.
The payment made by VIL in particular assumes significance as the company has been under financial pressure and is confronted with AGR liabilities of over Rs 53,000 crore.
This is the last lot of payments that telcos will make towards deferred spectrum liabilities, as the Union Cabinet had late last year approved a two-ear moratorium on such spectrum payment dues.
Separately, Tata Teleservices on Tuesday said it has made an on-account AGR payment of an additional Rs 2,000 crore to the DoT on March 2 “in good faith and as a matter of abundant caution” towards licence fees, spectrum usage charges and applicable interest, penalty and interest on penalty.
“This on account payment is subject to reconciliation after the conclusion of the process of computation and verification being conducted by DoT spanning a period beginning from FY2007 and spread across 20 circles,” the company said in a statement.
According to sources, DoT has decided to send fresh letters to telecom companies questioning them about the variation in AGR dues assessed by firms themselves and its own calculations. This is because amounts paid by telcos so far, even those who have announced full and final settlement, are woefully less than DoT’s AGR estimates.
Sources said the letters would go out within a day or two to telecom companies.
Bharti Airtel recently submitted over Rs 18,000 crore to DoT declaring it has made full and final settlement towards its AGR liabilities but the amount is far less than over Rs 35,000 crore that the government estimates the company owes it.
It is pertinent to mention here that Bharti Airtel on Saturday said it has made payment of Rs 8,004 crore towards AGR dues to the government, an amount over and above Rs 10,000 crore it has already paid. The amount of Rs 8,004 crore includes Rs 3,004 crore towards full and final settlement on AGR dues based on self assessment, and a deposit of buffer Rs 5,000 crore to cover DoT’s reconciliation differences.
“Based on the aforesaid payment we have now complied with AGR judgement and the directions in the order of the Supreme Court dated October 24, 2019,” Airtel had said in a regulatory filing.
Similarly, Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore in AGR dues, and now additional Rs 2,000 crore to cover reconciliation differences, while DoT estimates the liabilities to be about Rs 14,000 crore.
VIL has so far deposited Rs 3,500 crore in two tranches to DoT but is still assessing its full AGR dues. According to the government’s calculation, VIL owes Rs 53,000 crore in AGR liabilities.
After the meeting with the DoT secretary, Takkar declined to comment on how soon VIL would be able to complete the self assessment of dues.
DoT has also asked all telecom companies to furnish names of their MDs and their addresses, sources said adding this had been a requirement of the court which wanted those details.
In all, 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore in unpaid statutory dues — Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Of the estimated dues that include interest and penalty for late payments, Airtel and VIL account for about 60 per cent.
These dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.
The Supreme Court last month rejected a plea by mobile carriers such as Bharti Airtel and VIL for extension in the payment schedule and asked companies to deposit their past dues for spectrum and licences.
Since the February 14 tongue lashing that the Supreme Court gave telecom companies for missing its previous deadline of January 23 to pay past dues as well as the DoT for failing to enforce it, firms and the telecom ministry had been doing separate maths on the actual dues.
Meanwhile, IIFL Securities in a note on Tuesday said its recent interaction with senior DoT officials suggests that the department is keen on ensuring that India remains a three private player market and “its own assessment tallies with our estimate that ARPU has to double from current levels”.
The IIFL note also highlighted that AGR burden for telcos may be 10-15 per cent lighter, based on accurate assessment.
“Key risk is the Supreme Court imposing fresh punitive measures when it learns that the entire amount due has not been paid; however, we believe this is unlikely,” IIFL Securities said.

Source link

Read More

Coronavirus cases: IndiGo quarantines 4 crew members; AI reaches out to flyers of a flight

NEW DELHI: The coronavirus scare is now growing in India. IndiGo has quarantined it’s crew who flew a passenger who tested positive for the virus from Dubai to India. Air India (AI), which did the same with its crew of a Vienna-Delhi flight, has now reached out to other passengers on that flight to take the necessary precautions. Luxury hotel Hyatt Regency in Delhi has also quarantined staffers of a restaurant where an infected person had dinner.
An IndiGo spokesperson said: “The affected passenger in Hyderabad travelled on IndiGo flight 6E 96 (Dubai-Bangalore) on February 20, 2020. Under the guidance of APHO Bangalore all 4 cabin crew who operated this flight have been placed on home observation immediately, from March 2, 2020. We are following all the prescribed Airport Health Organisation (APHO) guidelines and are taking preventive measures for our crew operating flights to regions affected by coronavirus.”
In a tweet Air India said: “This is for the attention of passengers who flew on AI154 Vienna-Delhi of February 25, 2020. One of the passengers has tested positive for coronavirus. Please follow the protocol notified by the ministry of health regarding Coronavirus.”

General manager and area vice president of Hyatt Regency Delhi Julian Ayers said: “Government authorities recently confirmed that an individual who dined at La Piazza restaurant at Hyatt Regency Delhi on February 28, 2020, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 … Since receiving this news… All colleagues who were present at the restaurant on February 28, 2020, have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Hyatt Regency Delhi has also started to conduct daily temperature checks for all colleagues and contractors when they enter and exit the building.”
“…as advised by the government authorities, the hotel has enacted elevated precautionary operational protocols, including deep-cleaning measures in the restaurant, colleague lockers and in all public areas, restaurants and meeting spaces across the hotel… We are committed to caring for our guests and colleagues, as their safety and wellbeing remains a top priority… At this time, we do not have any confirmed cases to report among our colleagues. We continue to closely monitor this ongoing situation, remain vigilant in monitoring for symptoms among colleagues, and follow guidelines and protocols recommended by international and local authorities, in an effort to ensure guests and colleagues remain in a healthy and safe environment,” Ayers added.

Source link

Read More

Coronavirus: Twitter advises 5,000 global employees to work from home

NEW DELHI: Twitter Inc is “strongly encouraging” its almost 5,000 global employees to work from home due to concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirusthe company said on Monday.
The social media company made the suggestion as part of a blog update one day after it suspended all non-critical travel for workers, including pulling out of the South by Southwest conference scheduled for later this month in Austin, Texas.
Twitter says it’s mandatory for employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea to work from home, but that other offices will remain open for those who choose or need to come in. “We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands, and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation,” the company wrote on its blog.
Twitter’s policy on working from home is a step beyond what most companies in the US are doing as the virus spreads. Many, including AT&T Inc and Citigroup Inc, have restricted international travel, especially to Asia. Others including Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have postponed or canceled conferences in the US, and Facebook joined Twitter on Monday in pulling out of South by Southwest. But Twitter’s suggestion for remote work is more reminiscent of what companies did in Asia as the virus swept the region.
That’s probably because chief executive officer Jack Dorsey is a big proponent of remote work, and has already announced plans to spend as much as six months working from Africa in 2020. “While this is a big change for us, we have already been moving toward a more distributed workforce that’s increasingly remote,” Twitter wrote on Monday.
Square Inc, the other public company that Dorsey leads, is also asking employees to work from home. On Monday, Square executive Aaron Zamost wrote in a tweet that the company is implementing a “strongly encouraged work from home policy.”

A handful of Twitter workers tweeted praise for the decision, applauding Dorsey for prioritising employee health. Many of their tweets included the hashtag #webackjack, doubling as support for a CEO under attack from activist investors who may try to replace him.

Source link

Read More

Monitoring coronavirus impact on financial markets: RBI

MUMBAI: The Reserve Bank on Tuesday said it is closely monitoring global as well as domestic situation regarding the impact of deadly coronavirus and ready to take necessary action to ensure orderly functioning of financial markets.
Globally, financial markets have been experiencing considerable volatility, with the spread of coronavirus, triggering risk-off sentiments and flights to safe haven, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a statement.
Spillovers to financial markets in India have largely been contained. Growing hopes of coordinated policy action to mitigate a broader fallout to economic activity has boosted market sentiment today.
Coronavirus outbreak: Complete coverage
“The Reserve Bank of India is monitoring global and domestic developments closely and continuously and stands ready to take appropriate actions to ensure orderly functioning of financial markets, maintain market confidence and preserve financial stability,” it said.
Coronavirus outbreak: Latest updates
The outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent spread to geographies across the world has adversely affected the financial markets.
Meanwhile, the government has issued a travel advisory, suspending all regular visas/e-visas granted on or before March 3 to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan who have not yet entered India, a day after two fresh cases of coronavirus was reported in the country.

Source link

Read More

Sensex News: Sensex gains 480 points as RBI steps in to calm markets; Nifty above 11,300 | India Business News

NEW DELHI: After seven consecutive sessions of losses, equity indices on Tuesday rose sharply as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it is closely monitoring global as well as domestic situation regarding the impact of deadly coronavirus. Growing hopes of coordinated policy action to mitigate a broader fallout to economic activity also boosted market sentiment.
The benchmark BSE sensex rose 479.68 points or 1.26 per cent to close at 38,623.70. While, the broader NSE Nifty settled 170.55 points or 1.53 per cent higher at 11,303.30.
Top gainers in the 30-share BSE index include Sun Pharma, Tata Steel, ONGC, Ultracemco, NTPC, Power Grid and Hero MotoCorp with their stocks rising as much as 6.64 per cent. 28 out of 30 shares finished in green.
ITC and HDFC Bank were the only losers with their shares falling up to 0.77 per cent.
ON NSE, all sub-indices finished in green with Nifty Metal and Pharma rising as much as 5.60 per cent.
The RBI said it is closely monitoring the impact of deadly coronavirus and is ready to take necessary action to ensure orderly functioning of financial markets.
“The Reserve Bank of India is monitoring global and domestic developments closely and continuously and stands ready to take appropriate actions to ensure orderly functioning of financial markets, maintain market confidence and preserve financial stability,” it said.
According to traders, domestic benchmarks followed global equities that rallied on hopes of stimulus from global policymakers to lessen the impact of coronavirus on their economies.
“Even though the number of cases outside China are increasing and creating ripples in global markets, markets are assuming a huge possibility that coordinated central bank action and infusion of liquidity can help tackle the economic fallout of the virus,” Mayuresh Joshi, head of equity research at William O’Neil & Co in India told news agency Reuters.
Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from G7 countries will hold talks later in the day to discuss ways to coordinate their responses to cushion the epidemic’s impact on the global economy.
Further, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors (FPIs) sold equities worth Rs 1,354.72 crore, while domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs 1,138.74 crore on Monday, data available with stock exchanges showed.
(With agency inputs)

Source link

Read More

Emirates airline asks staff to take one month unpaid leave over coronavirus

DUBAI: Major international airline Emirates is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has led to flight cancellations around the world.
Emirates has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China because of the virus, and countries around the world have placed strict restrictions on entry of foreigners.
The airline has more resources than it needs as a result of cutting frequencies or cancelling flights to some destinations, said chief operating officer (COO) Adel al-Redha in a statement on Tuesday.
Coronavirus outbreak: Complete coverage
“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” he said.
Emirates Group, the state-owned holding company that counts the airline among its assets, has asked staff to consider taking paid and unpaid leave as it seeks to manage a “measurable slowdown” in its business, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing an internal company email.
Coronavirus outbreak: Latest updates
The group had more than 100,000 employees, including more than 21,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots, at the end of March 2019, the end of its last financial year.
Major concerts and events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an air transit centre that includes tourism and business hub Dubai, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.
The airline industry’s largest global body IATA on Monday urged Middle Eastern governments to provide support to airlines as they try to manage the impact of the outbreak.

Source link

Read More

IndiGo, GoAir to get 180 modified Pratt engines for Neos by May-end, says DGCA

NEW DELHI: IndiGo and GoAir currently have just over 90 unmodified Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines on their Airbus A320 Neos that need to be replaced with modified ones by May 31, 2020, to keep flying after that. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday said it has received a firm schedule that IndiGo’s remaining 60 unmodified PW engines will be replaced in that deadline and the schedule for replacing GoAir’s remaining 32 unmodified PW engines is still awaited.
In all, IndiGo and GoAir will get 180 modified engines both as replacement on planes already in their fleet and on new A320/321 Neos delivered to them by May-end. While 90 of the modified engines were to come as new deliveries and replacement by February-end, the remaining half is expected by May 31. IndiGo at present has 106 Neos and GoAir has 43 Neos. Together the two Indian carriers have about 25% of the 585 A320 Neo family of aircraft with PW 1100 series engines, the official added.
“A total number of 56 (PW unmodified engine) failures (on A320 Neos) have been reported globally, out of which 26 failures — 22 by IndiGo and four by GoAir — have been reported by Indian carriers, amounting to about 46%,” said a senior DGCA official.

(Graphic source: DGCA)
“IndiGo got its first A320 Neo in March 2016. GoAir got its first A320 Neo in May 2016… Post induction of the aircraft into service, technical issues were experienced on these engines worldwide. Most of these issues have been suitably addressed by the manufacturer except third stage low pressure turbine (LPT) failures…. PW developed a more robust third stage LPT which was installed on new engines from June 2019,” said the official.
“PW is in the process of setting up an MRO in India in collaboration with Air India (engineering arm) for replacement of third stage LPT at (the latter’s) Mumbai facility. This will significantly reduce the time taken for the upgrade. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of February 2020,” the official added.
“DGCA is continuously monitoring the performance of these engines and taking appropriate action to address the issues. Manufacturer has been directed to ensure sufficient availability of spare engines for Indian operators to prevent grounding of aircraft due to removal of engines,” he further said.

Source link

Read More

Vodafone CEO Nick Read to visit India, seek relief

NEW DELHI: As Vodafone Idea faces a survival battle due to the massive AGR (adjusted gross revenue) bill of over Rs 53,000 crore, Vodafone’s global CEO Nick Read will be visiting India later this week and he is expected to impress upon the government for a bailout.
Sources said Read, who had earlier expressed doubts over the continuation of the Indian business but later retracted, has sought time to meet telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Vodafone’s India partner Kumar Mangalam Birla has also met government officials for a relief, and these include Prasad and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The telecom company has said that it will fail to pay the AGR dues if it is not given a bailout.

Source link

Read More