3-day nationwide polio immunisation drive to begin on Jan 17

Agencies
January 8, 2021

Chennai, Jan 8: A three-day national immunisation drive for polio will begin in the country on January 17, said Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday.

"Three-day national immunisation drive for polio will begin on January 17. This is essential to maintain the overall immunity level of our country particularly pertaining to polio," said the minister after his visit to the session site in Government General Hospital in Chennai to review the second dry run for coronavirus vaccination on Friday.

Talking about the COVID-19 vaccination, Vardhan said the vaccination should start in the country in the next few days and requested the NGOs working in the field of health to help in the smooth rollout of the process.

"In the next few days, in the near future, we should be able to give these vaccines to our countrymen. It will be given to our healthcare professional followed by frontline workers. I request the NGOs working in the field of health to help in the smooth conduct of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and mobilisation of beneficiaries in the best possible manner," he stated.

"In the past year, government and social organisations, scientists and medical practitioners showed exemplary performance in managing COVID-19 situation. India has the highest recovery rate and the lowest fatality rate. We started journey with one testing lab and today we have around 2,300 labs in the country," the minister added further.

He said the government has ensured that every details regarding vaccination is conveyed to the people from the national level to the grassroot level.

"On January 2, we did a dry run in almost 125 districts in the country. Today, we are doing it across the country except for the three states, which did it earlier... Lakhs of healthcare workers are being trained through these dry runs and the process to train more is still going on," Vardhan stated.

The minister is on a visit to Tamil Nadu to oversee the dry run drill for coronavirus vaccination.

The second nationwide mock drill on the COVID-19 vaccination is being held at three-session sites of 736 districts across 33 states/UTs today.

The dry run is aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in the health system. It will also help to assess operational feasibility of using Co-WIN application in a field environment for planning, implementation and reporting at the block, district and state level.

According to the health ministry, the objective of the mock drill on COVID-19 vaccination is to simulate the actual vaccine administration event.

COVID-19 vaccines of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have been granted permission by Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted use in an emergency situation.

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News Network
January 11,2021

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Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das said the Covid-19 pandemic "threatens" to result in balance sheet impairments and capital shortfalls at banks, especially once regulatory reliefs are rolled back.

In his foreword to the bi-annual Financial Stability Report (FSR), Das said easy liquidity and financing conditions have shored up the financial parameters of banks, but made it clear that the "available accounting numbers obscure a true recognition of stress".

He asked banks to exploit the current conditions to augment capital and also alter their business models, which will help in the future.

The RBI had declared a six-month moratorium which ended in August and later announced a one-time loan recast package to help borrowers. Many banks, especially the private sector ones, have already raised safety capital in the early days of the pandemic.

Fiscal authorities are witnessing revenue shortfalls and the resultant expansion in the market borrowing programme of the government has "imposed additional pressures on banks", Das said.

The disconnect between certain segments of financial markets and the real economy has been accentuating in recent times, he said, warning that the stretched valuations of financial assets pose risks to financial stability.

Das asked banks and financial intermediaries to be cognisant of these risks and spillovers in an interconnected financial system.

Financial stability is a precondition for supporting the mission of restoring economic growth and livelihoods, Das said, conceding that "we have been scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic".

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Agencies
January 12,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 12: Raising concerns over a disconnect between the financial markets and the real economy, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Monday said that stretched valuations of financial assets pose risks to financial stability.

In his foreword to the Financial Stability report of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for January, he noted that banks and financial intermediaries need to be cognisant of these risks and spillovers in an interconnected financial system.

"The disconnect between certain segments of financial markets and the real economy has been accentuating in recent times, both globally and in India. Stretched valuations of financial assets pose risks to financial stability," he wrote.

The Governor's statement comes at a time when the Indian equity markets are scaling new highs amid the pandemic, while the economy going through a recession.

Das said that that in spite of rising public commitments for mitigating the impact of the pandemic, fiscal authorities are also witnessing revenue shortfalls. The resultant expansion in the market borrowing programme of the government has imposed additional pressures on banks, he added.

So far, the borrowing programme has been managed smoothly so far, with the lowest borrowing costs in 16 years and elongation of maturity, Das said, adding that the corporate sector has also raised substantial funds from financial markets amidst easy financing conditions, which have been mainly used for deleveraging and building up precautionary buffers.

"As growth impulses take root, the private sector capex cycle should revive as existing capacities get utilised and new capacities are added. This will require the financial system to intermediate expanded growth requirements of Indian business," Das wrote in the foreword.

Noting that India's banking system faced the pandemic with relatively sound capital and liquidity buffers built assiduously in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, he said: "Notwithstanding these efforts, the pandemic threatens to result in balance sheet impairments and capital shortfalls, especially as regulatory reliefs are rolled back."

In addition, banks will be called to meet the funding requirements of the economy as it traces a revival from the pandemic. Consequently, maintaining the health of the banking sector remains a policy priority and preservation of the stability of the financial system is an overarching goal, Das said.

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Agencies
January 12,2021

Mumbai, Jan 12: The Central Board of Direct Taxes dashed hopes of all taxpayers waiting for further extension of due dates for filing tax returns rejecting all representation in this regard, citing that the process cannot be delayed 'indefinitely' and hamper the functioning of the tax department and welfare programmes of the government.

The decision means that individual taxpayers who have missed the January 10 deadline for filing returns may now have to pay a penalty to complete the process. Similarly, taxpayers who need to file audit report before filing returns will have to do so by January 15 and file their returns by February 15.

The income tax department had received several representations to further extend dates for filing returns as disruptions caused pandemic had continued to create problems for various taxpayers. The suggestion was to extend dates for all categories of taxpayers to March 31.

In its office order directing all tax formation across the country to see the due dates for tax payment is followed as no further extensions were due, the CBDT cited that the contentions of lesser number of audit reports filed this year and thereby extension was required, as completely baseless. It said that even in previous years audit reports were filed in the last few days before the deadline and similar trends were seen even in 2020-21.

The board also cited that India has been more generous compared to other global economies, particularly, Covid hit the US and UK, in providing relief to its taxpayers on compliance issues.

Moreover, the statistics of returns filed this year clearly shows that the numbers are higher than last year already. In 2019-20, about 5.62 crore income tax returns were filed till due date and this year (2020-21) already 5.95 ITRs have been filed (up to January 10).

Any further extension would adversely affect the return filing discipline and shall cause injustice to those who have taken pains to file the return before the due date, CBDT said in its order.

It will also hamper the government's efforts to provide relief to the poor during Covid times, the office order said.

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