Thursday, April 30, 2020

During Lockdown EPFO Settles about 13 Lakh Claims

Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), under Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, has settled a total of 12.91 lakhs claims, including 7.40 lakhs COVID-19 claims under Pradhan Mantri Garib     Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) package. This involves disbursal of a total amount of Rs. 4684.52 crores which includes Rs. 2367.65 crores COVID claims under PMGKY package.

It is heartening to note that the exempted PF trusts have also risen to the occasion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As on 27.04.2020, Rs. 875.52 crores have been disbursed to 79,743 PF Members as advance  for COVID-19 by the exempted PF Trusts under this Scheme, with 222 private sector establishments disbursing Rs.338.23 crores to 54641 beneficiaries, 76 public sector establishments disbursing Rs.524.75 crores to 24178 beneficiaries and 23 cooperative sector   establishments disbursing Rs.12.54 crores to 924 claimants.

M/s Tata Consultancy Services Mumbai, M/s HCL Technologies Ltd. Gurugramand M/s HDFC Bank Powai, Mumbai are the top three exempted establishments in private sector, both in terms of “number of claims settled and “amount disbursed”. In public sector, M/s ONGC Dehradun, M/s Neyveli Lignite Corporation Neyveli and M/s BHEL Trichyare the top 3 exempted           establishments to have settled maximum number of COVID-19 advance claims; whereas, M/s Neyveli Lignite Corporation Neyveli, M/s ONGC Dehradun and M/s Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant Vishakhapatnam are top three establishments in terms of amount disbursed to EPF     members.

The provision for a special withdrawal from the EPF Scheme to fight Covid-19 pandemic is part of the PMGKY scheme announced by the government and an urgent notification on the matter was made to introduce a para 68 L (3) of the EPF Scheme on 28th March, 2020. Under this   provision non-refundable withdrawal to the extent of the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75% of the amount standing to member's credit in the EPF account,    whichever is less, is provided.

Despite only one-third staff being able to work due to lockdown, EPFO is committed to serve its members during this difficult situation and EPFO offices are functional to help them during these testing times.

UIDAI allows Aadhaar updation facility through CSCs

In a major relief to those living in rural areas, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has allowed the Common Service Centre, an SPV under the Ministry of IT and Electronics, to begin the Aadhaar updation facility at their 20,000 CSCs which operate as Banking Correspondents (BCs), said Union Minister for Communications, MEITY and Law and Justice Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad in a tweet.

Union Minister tweeted that around 20,000 CSCs will now be able to offer this service to citizens. He urged the CSC VLEs to start the Aadhaar work with responsibility and as per instructions issued by UIDAI in this regard. He further said that this facility will help a large no of rural citizens to get Aadhar services closer to their place of residence.

UIDAI has set June deadline for the commencement of the work after CSCs with banking facilities upgrade their required infrastructure and get other necessary approvals. However, CSC CEO Dr Dinesh Tyagi said he has asked all BCs to immediately finish technical and other upgradation which the UIDAI has asked for so that Aadhaar updation work can be started soon.

Thanking the Union Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad for getting Aadhaar updation work restarted through CSC, Dr Tyagi said it would further strengthen the efforts of achieving the goals of “Digital India” as envisaged by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

Commencement of Aadhaar update services through CSC also comes across as a big relief during the lockdown restrictions imposed to prevent spread of COVID19. With these 20,000 additional centers available to update Aadhaar, the users particularly in rural areas need not visit Aadhaar centres in bank branches or Post Offices for this work.

Telephone conversation between India PM and PM of Canada

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on phone today with H.E. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The two leaders discussed the prevailing global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.  They agreed on the importance of global solidarity and coordination, the maintenance of supply chains, and collaborative research activities.
Prime Minister Modi thanked the Canadian Prime Minister for the assistance and support extended to the Indian citizens present in Canada, especially Indian students.  Prime Minister Trudeau appreciated the support provided by Government of India for Canadian citizens in India. 
Prime Minister conveyed the assurance that India’s productive capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector would remain available for assisting the citizens of the world, including those of Canada, to the best of India’s abilities.
The two leaders agreed that the partnership between India and Canada could contribute meaningfully to the global effort to fight the pandemic, especially through collaboration in research and technology aimed at finding a vaccine or therapeutic solutions to COVID-19.

India to capture significant share in the world trade

Minister of Commerce and Industry and Railways Shri Piyush Goyal through Video Conferencing, held discussions with the Export Promotion Councils(EPCs) of the country. He called upon the Exporters to identify their strengths, potentials and competitive advantages in specific sectors, and focus on harnessing them in the world markets. ShriGoyal said that in the post-Covid era, there is going to be perceptible change in the global supply-chains, and Indian industrialists and exporters should be looking to capture significant share in the world trade. He assured them that the Government will be a pro-active supporter and facilitator in their efforts, and the Indian Missions abroad can play an important role in that. The Minister said that Incentives can be given, but they have to be justified, reasonable, and WTO-compliant.

Goyal said that the Ministry is working on identifying the specific sectors which can be taken forward in the immediate future for the Exports purpose. He said that India is going to have a bumper Rabi harvest this season, and our storage facilities are overflowing. At the same time, there are news stories that there is shortage of food items in several countries. Many places are not having food of appropriate quality, taste and quantity, due to disruptions in the supply chains because of Covid-19 crisis. He said that this seems to be a good opportunity for export of agricultural and processed food items. The Minister exhorted the Export promotion councils to undertake brainstorming sessions with its members, and come up with similar actionable, big-ticket ideas.

 The EPC Office bearers expressed their gratitude to the Minister, for providing support and coming out with time-bound solutions, during the Covid pandemic and lockdown. They made several suggestions, which may further facilitate their functioning. The meeting was attended, among others, by FIEO, AEPC, SRTEPC, CLE, SEPC, Chemexcil, GJEPC, CEPC, Shefexil, CEPCI, PEPCI, Pharmexcil, ECSEPC, EEPC, TEPC, Capexil, Chemexcil.

411 flights have been operated under Lifeline Udan

Udan flights 411 have been operated under Lifeline Udan by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF and private carriers. 237 of these flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air. Cargo transported by Lifeline Udan flights till date is around 776.73 tons covering over 4,04,224 km. Cargo load carried on 28th April 2020  was   28.05 Tons. ‘Lifeline Udan’ flights are being operated by MoCA in domestic Sector to transport essential medical cargo to remote parts of the country to support India’s war against COVID-19.  

Helicopter services including Pawan Hans Ltd have been operating in J&K, Ladakh, Islands and North East region transporting critical medical cargo and patients. Pawan Hans till 28th April 2020 have carried 2.0 tons of cargo covering a distance of 7,257 kms.  Special focus has been on the North East Region, island territories and the hill states. Air India and IAF collaborated primarily for J&K, Ladakh, North-East and other    island regions.

Domestic Cargo Operators SpiceJet, Blue Dart, Indigo and Vistara are operating cargo flights on a commercial basis. Spicejet operated 651 cargo flights during 24 March to 28 April 2020 covering a distance of 11,34,204 km and carrying 4,741 tons of cargo. Out of these, 233 were international cargo flights. Blue Dart operated 224 cargo flights covering a distance of 2,44,643 km and carrying 3,742 tons of cargo during 25 March to 28 April 2020. Out of these, 10 were international cargo flights. Indigo has operated 59 cargo flights during 3-28 April 2020 covering a distance of 96,742 km and carrying around 246 tons of cargo and including 18 international flights.  This also includes medical supplies carried free of cost for the government. Vistara has operated 14 cargo flights during 19-28 April 2020 covering a distance of 20,466 km and carrying around 113 tons of cargo. 

In International Sector, a cargo air-bridge was established with East Asia for transportation of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and Covid-19 relief material. The quantity of medical cargo brought in by Air India is 668 tons.

In addition to the above, Blue Dart has uplifted around 109 tons of medical supplies from Guangzhou starting 14th April upto 28th April 2020. Blue Dart has also uplifted 5 tons of medical cargo from Shanghai on 25th April 2020. Spicejet has also uplifted 140 tons of medical supplies from Shanghai upto 28th April 2020 and 13 tons medical supplies from Hong Kong and Singapore upto 25th April 2020.