TOP 30 KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM FM PRESS MEET DATED 24.03.2020

1. Invest India Business Immunity Platform launched to helping businesses withstand COVID-19

Invest India, India’s national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched The Invest India Business Immunity Platform. The Business Immunity Platform (BIP) is the active platform for business issue redressal, operating 24/7, with a team of dedicated sector experts and responding to queries at the earliest.

2. Centre asks states to deploy fiscal resources for additional medical facilities

The Central Government has asked all the State Governments to deploy fiscal resources for establishing additional medical facilities such as hospitals, clinical labs, isolation wards, expanding & upgrading existing facilities to combat the challenge posed by COVID19.

3. Declare your readiness towards Covid-19 pandemic, govt asks companies to fill web form

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs had yesterday rolled out a web form that was to ascertain the readiness of the companies towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. The government also said that it is a simple web form with minimum fields and can be filed from anywhere, without requiring payment or Digital Signature Certificate (DSC).

4. Bank ATM withdrawal charges removed, no Average Monthly Balance required till June

Debit cardholders will be able to withdraw money from any ATM for free for three months, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced today. She said that free of charge cash withdrawal from any other bank ATM will be allowed for debit cardholders for three months. This decision comes in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis which has infected over 500 people across the country.

5. Govt announces support for unorganized construction workers

To support unorganized construction workers who sustain their livelihood on daily wages, an advisory has been issued today to transfer funds in the account of construction workers through DBT mode from the Cess fund collected by the Labour Welfare Boards under the BOCW cess Act. About Rs 52,000 crore is available as cess fund and about 3.5 crore construction workers are registered with these Construction welfare Boards.

6. ICC feels the need for a clear definition of products and services

ICC feels the need for a clear definition of products and services to ensure smooth manufacturing and supply of Essential goods. Many Non Essentials products are necessary to ensure regular supply of Essential goods. It is important to keep these items easily available as right kind of packaging is key to hygiene and ample availability of quality food products. Else unsafe food products may find their way into the markets. – Rajeev Singh, Director General, Indian Chamber of Commerce.

7. Government of India has already identified the list of jobs and services deemed ‘essential’

“The Government of India has already identified the list of jobs and services deemed “essential” and, therefore, are not required to be in lockdown for the next few weeks. At present, there are several commodities scheduled under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, as essential drugs; fertilizer, whether inorganic, organic or mixed; foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oils, etc”. – Rajeev Singh, Director General, Indian Chamber of Commerce.

8. No violation for independent directors, who did not hold even one meeting

The independent directors of companies who have not been a part of even one meeting, should not be seen as a violation in FY20, according to the FinMin announcements

9. Economic packages will be announced sooner, than later

As the Finance Minister was making an announcement regarding regulatory compliance today, she said that the economic packages will be announced sooner, than later.

10. Deadline for Sabka Vishwas scheme extended to 30 June 2020

Taxpayers get more time to end cases of litigation regarding direct taxes. Govt extends the deadline of Sabka Vishwas Scheme to 30 June 2020, which was previously 31 March 2020.

11. IBC threshold limit raise: Breather for MSMEs in particular, in the backdrop of many small units heading for liquidation

“Raising the default threshold trigger under bankruptcy code from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore is a welcome measure and will provide a breather for MSMEs in particular, in the backdrop of many small units heading for liquidation,” Hari Hara Mishra, Director, UV ARC.

12. FinMin closely monitoring stock market volatility

FM Sitharaman said that she is closely monitoring volatility in the stock market and the FinMin is in contact with regulators three times a day.

13. Deadline for GST returns filing extended to 30 June 2020, penalty, late fee, interest waived off

The deadline to file March, April, and May, has also been extended to June-end. FinMin also announced that the companies with less than Rs 5 Cr turnover, will not have to pay interest, late fee, or penalty, however, for bigger companies, no late fee and penalty will be charged but the interest will be levied at a reduced rate of 9 per cent.

14. No need to search for own bank ATMs, visit any ATM

FinMin has waived off extra charges on using other bank’s ATMs, giving people the facility to use nearby ATMs without paying any extra charge.

15. No need to maintain minimum balance in bank accounts

FM Sitharaman today announced that there will be no penalty for not maintaining the minimum balance amount in the bank accounts.

16. FM raises threshold limit for IBC proceedings to Rs 1 crore

Threshold for IBC extended to 1 crore rupees. Depending on situation, an IBC moratorium for 6 months may be on the cards if situation remains bad. However latter not implemented yet

17. Retailers body urges state govts to keep all forms of grocery stores open during lockdown

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has requested state administrations to allow food and grocery stores of all formats, irrespective of their locations, to stay open during the lockdown period. The request comes after some unfortunate incidents in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat where the police beat up employees and delivery staff of retailers and dragged them to police stations.

18. Tourism sector comes to halt as 32 states declare lockdown; these five states may face maximum hit

The sector that provides employment to thousands of people in organised and unorganised sectors, with Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) of nearly $30 billion a year, has faced the direct impact of coronavirus scare. Even before the lockdown, India hosted 72,000 fewer tourists in the month of February, according to the data provided by Prahlad Singh Patel, MoS (IC), Ministry of Tourism, in a reply to a question in Lok Sabha.

19. Coronavirus outbreak: India has tremendous capacity in eradicating COVID-19 pandemic, says WHO

India, which led the world in eradicating two silent killers — smallpox and polio — in the past, has a tremendous capacity in eradicating the deadly coronoavirus pandemic that has now claimed nearly 15,000 lives globally, according to a top WHO official.

20. India Inc seeks fiscal stimulus, moratorium on debt repayment to mitigate coronavirus impact

To mitigate the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the economy, India Inc has sought a host of measures, including a year-long moratorium by banks on debt repayment, tax cuts and fiscal stimulus am ounting to Rs 2 lakh crore to needy citizens through Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer.

21. Digital India: Risk of coronavirus on currency notes, ATMs make banks recommend digital transactions

As cases related to coronavirus have swelled up in India, the social-distancing and avoiding the touch of other humans and surfaces are the unanimous concern of every citizen. In this unfortunate time, the currency notes that are circulated with regular contact of hands also raise an alarm.

22. Coronavirus crisis: Modi’s Jan Dhan accounts can be used to help daily wage workers, suggests FICCI

Industry body FICCI has suggested the government to use Jan Dhan accounts to facilitate a one-time payment to daily wage workers as over 500 districts in the country have been put under lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. “One-time payment by transfer of Rs 5,000 to daily wage earners’ Jan Dhan accounts (below the poverty line) to meet the daily needs in view of the loss of wages due to lockdown,” FICCI said in a report on Monday.

23. Coronavirus lockdown: If not for hoarding, India has enough food stock to feed its poor

India will have enough grain stockpiles to feed its poor for at least a year-and-a-half as reserves are likely to further balloon after record harvests in the South Asian nation that has been locked down to check the spread of the coronavirus.

24. Delhi Assembly passes budget for 2020-21; Rs 50 crore set aside to deal with coronavirus

The Delhi Assembly passed a Rs 65,000-crore budget for the 2020-21 financial year on Monday, with an emphasis on the education, health and transport sectors. In the budget presented in the House by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government set aside Rs 50 crore to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

25. PM asks India Inc to maintain production lines of essential commodities, prevent black marketing amid coronavirus fight

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked Indian companies to maintain production lines of essential commodities and ensure there is no hoarding as well as black marketing in the wake of the country fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

26. Government expenditure system declared as essential service

Keeping in mind the year-end rush and loosening the purse strings to cope with the impact of coronavirus, the finance ministry on Monday declared the government expenditure system to be an essential service, thereby ordering all offices connected with the payment functions to remain open on working hours.

27. Nirmala Sitharaman’s food bags for people in need; allows states to take foodgrain from FCI, pay later

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamna yesterday allowed states and Union Territories to lift foodgrain from FCI on three-month credit for distributing to poor and needy amid the coronavirus scare. The decision has come amid the lockdown of many states due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

28. Govt says, no impact on Indian imports

“There is no impact on Cargo Vessels. However, as per the directions of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, International cruise vessels arriving from foreign destinations are not allowed to call Indian Ports till 31 March 2020,” said a statement by the Ministry of Shipping.

29. PM Modi to address at 8 pm on Covid-19 pandemic

Later, at 8 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on issues relating to the menace of COVID-19.

30. Nirmala Sitharaman may announce relief on compliance for companies

FM Sitharaman may ease statutory and regulatory compliance for companies to help them survive amid coronavirus pandemic.

DISCLAIMER: THE ARTICLE IS BASED ON THE RELEVANT PROVISIONS AND AS PER THE INFORMATION EXISTING AT THE TIME OF THE PREPARATION. IN NO EVENT I SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT AND INDIRECT RESULT FROM THIS ARTICLE. THIS IS ONLY A KNOWLEDGE SHARING INITIATIVE.

THE AUTHOR –  CS DEEPAK SETH (ASSOCIATE PARTNER HELPINGHANDS PROFESSIONALS LLP) AND CAN BE REACHED AT [email protected] OR 9910248911

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CS Deepak Seth is an Associate Member of Institute of Companies Secretaries of India having good experience in legal and secretarial matters. He is graduate from Delhi University and Post graduate from IGNOU University. He is also MBA in Finance and LLB Deree holder. He possesses professional experi View Full Profile

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