Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed China visit in May, India may extend e-tourist visa for the Chinese nationals in spite of a strong opposition from intelligence agencies.
The matter was discussed in a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary LC Goyal, during which an intelligence agency recommended a cautious approach before taking a final decision.
In 2014, India launched e-tourist visa facility for forty countries but China was not included in that list.
‘Though intelligence agency has disapproved the granting of extending e-tourism visas for Chinese citizens, there is a strong possibility of government overriding the intelligence agency’s decision, an official said.
The e-tourist visa enabled by electronic travel authorization would enable the prospective visitor to apply for an Indian visa from his or her home country online without visiting the Indian mission and also pay the visa fee online.
The scheme was launched in November 27, 2014 and since then a total of 1, 10,000 visas have been issued by the government under the scheme.
A number of 14,083 tourist visas were issued last year compared to 2700 in December 2013, recording a growth of 421.6 per cent.
The Congress has asked the government to spell out a roadmap for exiting the lockdown two days ahead of the expiry of lockdown-3 and following Prime Minister Modi seeking the states’ suggestions for lifting the restrictions.
“Where is the national exit plan,” asked Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson on Friday.
“India announced a lockdown when the case count was 181 and now when you are lifting the lockdown, the number of cases has crossed 80,000. India is the first country apart from the US to be doing so,” said Tewari.
He said when the government can announce putting into effect the miscellaneous clause in the Disaster Management Act, then it can also come out with the exit plan.
“The Prime Minister is playing a unique game as he announced lockdown; and now when things are out of hands, then the onus is put on the states to suffer the wrath of people. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too has put the onus of migrants on the states,” said Tewari.
The Congress said since states have to face people, no government can allow anarchy. “Therefore, states should be given more flexibility.”
The party has been questioning the exit strategy and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the party chief ministers to press the Centre for a roadmap.
Former party president Rahul Gandhi has emphasized that states should be consulted on zone categorization. He has asserted that the opening of the economy should be left to the states as they know better about the supply chain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address on Tuesday said that coronavirus is a reality. He hinted that lockdown 4.0 would be “totally different.”
The PM has also said in a video conference with Chief Ministers that as the country moves ahead, the economic activities that have been restarted would gain steam. He also asked state governments to ensure that rural India remains free from the Covid-19 crisis.
The Chief Ministers who couldn’t make themselves heard during the video conference on Monday were told to send their suggestions by May 15.
Though Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal and Telangana insisted on extending the current lockdown, some other states such as Delhi wanted greater freedom to open the economy, except in the containment zones. (IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to aid the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which have taken a beating during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Modi tweeted, “Today’s announcements by FM @nsitharaman will go a long way in addressing issues faced by businesses, especially MSMEs. The steps announced will boost liquidity, empower the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitive spirit.
He also used the hashtag ‘Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, which is a reference to self-reliant India, something which he vowed to turn the country into during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday night.
Speaking to the media here on Wednesday, Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit. Another criteria, turnover of the company, has also been added to the required norms for classification of MSMEs.
Sitharaman also announced a collateral-free automatic loan for MSMEs of up to Rs 3 lakh crore, among other liquidity measures.
In a move to provide more scope for Indian companies, including MSMEs, the Centre has decided to disallow global firms from participating in government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.
These were part of a multi-pronged approach of the government to rejuvenate the sector which has been badly hit by the suspension of economic activities in the country in the wake of the nationwide lockdown which is place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. (IANS)
Bars, small restaurants and guest houses should be allowed to open with social distancing norms in Lockdown 4, Goa Ports Minister Michael Lobo told the state cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Lobo also said, that several cabinet ministers had urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to recommend to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, about allowing the small establishments to open in corona-free ‘green’ zones in Goa, in order to set the economy rolling.
“Small shops like those selling chai, snacks or thali lunches should be allowed with half the present seating capacity and social distancing protocol,” Lobo told reporters.
“Even bars (should be opened). Let the number of tables be reduced, let customers sit far away from each other,” the Minister also said.
He said, that if Goa remains in the green zone next month, the state government could even consider opening small guest houses.
“I have suggested that some guest houses be allowed to re-open. Our youths are unemployed. At least some money will start coming to the state. Right now revenue collections are not coming in from the sale of liquor, GST, etc,” Lobo said.
As a revenue generation measure, the state government over the last two days has hiked the prices of water, electricity and alcohol to tide over the financial crunch. (IANS)