The government was looking at a calibrated way to open up the country, and wanted to do so in consultation with the industry. Officials said that each industry needs to be looked differently and the ones where human contact can be minimised will get precedence such as air cargo travel versus passenger flights.
The group will process a deluge of proposals from academicians, technology and healthcare professionals and the public on tackling the Covid-19 outbreak. It is studying how technology is being leveraged across the globe to track whether by going to a particular location, a person would be exposed to anyone who has Covid-19 or has displayed mild symptoms.
The Department of Revenue and the handset industry, backed by the IT ministry, are at odds over the implementation of the much-touted Rs 41,000-crore production-linked incentive scheme to boost local manufacturing and exports.
Top govt sources said mobile Internet usage had increased only by around 10% on average since the start of the lockdown, with metros like Delhi and Mumbai recording as little as a 3% rise, with small telecom circles seeing higher growth at 15%.
In a recent letter to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Indian Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) said the hike in the GST rate to 18% effective April 1 from 12% would “draw out Rs 15,000 crore from the ecosystem and devastate the retail sector already under attack from Covid-19" and further impact 80 crore consumers at a time when their spending capacity could come under pressure.
Foxconn, Flex and Wistron, which together make the bulk of the smartphones sold in India, are closing operations, government and industry officials said.
The government has filed an application in the Supreme Court, requesting that telcos be allowed to spread the payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues over 20 years or less, at a reduced interest rate of 8%, in a bid to prevent an “adverse impact” on the economy, jobs and millions of consumers.
The IBA’s letter was sent a day after the SC, on February 14, lashed out at telecom companies for not paying up their AGR dues on time while hearing their plea to be allowed to negotiate with the telecom department on longer timelines for payment.
The government is also likely to request the Supreme Court to allow affected telcos to stagger payment of AGR liabilities over up to 20 years on net present value basis, at a reduced interest rate of 8%, against the 12% that is usually charged on dues, a senior government official told.
EU has requested a WTO panel to probe the India's high basic customs duty on high-end smartphones.
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