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First Time in Indian History, a Govt Took Money from RBI due to Steep Economic Slowdown: Congress

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HP Congress economic slowdown meeting at shimla

Shimla- Ahead of the by-election to Pachhad and Dharamshala seats, Himachal Pradesh Congress has opened a front against the Centre government over the economic slowdown. As a part of its election campaign, Congress has already made a call to its party-workers to highlight issues like unemployment, demonetizations, and hasty implementation of GST among the voters.

The faulty policies of the Narender Modi led Centre government has pushed India backwards in terms of development and has destroyed the national economy, said Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma while addressing a State level Convocation on Economic slowdown in India at the HP Congress Headquarters in Shimla on Tuesday.

For the first time in Indian history, a government has transferred money from the Reserve Bank of India, which clearly means that the government is facing a serious financial crunch, said Sharma. The government is not able to pay refunds of over Rs 10 lakh crores under GST.

HP Congress economic slowdown meeting at shimla3

Sharma said that the image of the country was tarnished due to devastation caused to the economy due to wrong decisions taken by the current government and that it would not be easy to recover from this economic slowdown. He said that demonetization and faulty implementation of the GST has hit the unorganized sector where 90 percent people were employed. Small, as well as, big businesses in the unorganized sector, which was contributing 45 percent towards total production of the nation, have either shut down or are on the verge of shut down.

As a result, lakhs of people employed with this sector are staring at a dark future.

Sharma said that Prime Minister Narender Modi isn’t concerned about the nation at all in such a time. He hasn’t spoken even a word about the current condition of the Indian economy. He lauds the economic status of the nation in foreign countries, which is a lie, he said.

Sharma said that during the Congress government, India had come across a phase of economic slowdown, however, under the capable leadership of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, negative implications of it were averted.  Sharma said that BJP leaders had made fun of Manmohan Singh when he had expressed his concern over the deteriorating economic condition. However, now the BJP government is face to face with that situation.

Sharma suspects a possible scam of worth nine thousand crores in the upcoming budget, which, he said, would be fatal to the economy of the nation.

He further alleged the Modi government of dictatorship in a democratic system. Media is afraid of showing the truth to the people and only displaying promotional content. Media is not highlighting the wrong decisions of the government, he said. For the first time in history, 70 thousand crores were spent on elections in 2019. Out of it, 60 thousand crores were spent by BJP only. Sharma questioned the source of such a huge investment. He also said that this election was not fought over real issues but on the agenda of nationalism.

However, he said, the people of India can not be misled for long. Sooner or later, they will realize the reality of the current government and throw it out of power.

Other leaders including HPPC Kuldeep Rathore also addressed the meeting.
HP Congress economic slowdown meeting at shimla 2

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‘Quarantine Tourism’ and Opening Hotels in Himachal Bad Idea: Hotel Associations

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Himachal Pradesh Opening hotels and quarantine tourism

Shimla– The Shimla Hotel & Restaurant Association on June 2, 2020, held a video conference with the Secretary and Director of the State Tourism Department, DTDOs, and Presidents of all associations concerning the hospitality industry of Himachal Pradesh.

The conference was held following the State Government’s announcement regarding opening of hotels for people visiting the State for non-tourism purposes from June 8.

The Association termed Chief Minister Jairam Thakur’s plan of “quarantine tourism” in Himachal Pradesh as a bad idea that would put the safety of the people at a risk. It’s pertinent to mention that a couple of weeks ago, the Chief Minister had suggested that to boost the industry, hotels can be opened for people, within and from outside the State, who are quarantined. This idea of the CM had drawn flak from not only the oppositions but also from the people.

“As far as quarantine tourism is concerned, we from the Industry do not feel it would be a good step for tourism in Himachal Pradesh. This could be unsafe for the employees, our properties and most important our citizens in towns and villages,”

said Sanjay Sood, President of Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association. 

This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hotel industry-supported Chief Minister’s decision to close borders of Himachal to tourists, which we felt was the right decision as we all were concerned for our employees and citizens of our state, Sood said.

Since cases are on the rise in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab etc. Himachal should not consider opening hotels, at least, till the end of August or September unless a vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19 is available, Sanjay added.  

Now, that most parts of the State are safe and the tourist season – April, May and June- seems to have been lost due to the pandemic, the State should not open its borders for tourism as the cases are going to increase manifold in June and July, he said.

“We should not consider opening tourism in Himachal Pradesh till we have normalcy in domestic and international air traffic and all inter-state borders are opened. We suggest we should try to boost tourism in the State in August or September and start marketing the beautiful state for wellness tourism, adventure tourism, environmental tourism, cultural tourism, health tourism, religious tourism, culinary tourism,”

Sanjay said.

Also Read: Impossible to Pay Salaries & Wages to Staff With Zero Cash Flow, Says Hotel Association, Seeks Relief from CM Jairam Thakur

He said that meanwhile, the hotels would get a time of two to three months to train their staff to deal with guests and at the same time keep themselves safe in these challenging times of a pandemic.  Sanjay suggested that the State Government would need to focus on projecting Himachal as a safe destination and include members of all hotel associations of the State to do so.

The Association gave following suggestions to the State Govt

  1. Advertisements on Netflix and other popular TV channels which are currently popular.
  2. Advertise in theaters like PVR, SRS etc once they open.
  3. Advertise in newspapers and popular magazines concerning domestic and international travels.
  4. The most important step for the State Government should be to take along three to five members of all hotel associations of the State and hold roadshows, exhibitions, dinners with popular travel houses in all metros and cities of India to showcase Himachal as a haven for visitors.
  5. State Government would have to bear all costs including travel and stay of members of the association’s members.
  6. There are bodies like a travel trade fair, both domestic and international, where the State Government needs to coordinate and organise roadshows exhibitions etc.
  7. All fees for exhibitions that take place in various destinations should be waived off for hotels and the Government would have to take care of the expenses.

Earlier, on May 23, a delegation of Himachal’s hotel and tourism industry headed by Vikramaditya Singh, MLA, Shimla (Rural), had met the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, seeking relief for the dying industry in the State due to the lockdown.

Reliefs Sought from the State Government by the Hospitality Industry

The delegation sought-following relief measures for “survival and revival” of tourism in Himachal  :

  1. Financial package is given to all hotels to cover business losses incurred during lockdown period by way of interest-free loans from State co-operative Bank and other state-owned banks, waiver of interest on existing term loans / CC limits availed from various banks and extension of existing term loans and CC limit with no requirements of fresh/additional collaterals.
  2. No electricity and water charges should be taken from hotels which are presently lying closed since lockdown.
  3. All fixed taxes, cess, license fees, govt. rentals should be waived for lockdown period from April 2020 that are being charged by the government of HP.
  4. The government should pay minimum wages to all Hotel employees during the lockdown . There are about 50,000 employees in tourism units of private & govt. Sector. The total amount will be less than 50 crores per month which should be paid by way of direct transfers to all employees of tourism units.
  5. GST should be reduced to 9% for 2 years after the opening of lockdown to encourage the revival of tourism in Himachal. Hotels should be allowed to charge 9% as ‘ COVID – 19 surcharge’ to the bills of visiting customers in room and food charges to make up for the losses in sales during the lockdown.
  6. Completion of Tourism linked infrastructure should be expedited like helipads, National and State highways, link roads etc.
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HP Govt Cancels Recruitment Process for Posts of Clerks in Secretariat

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Himachal Pradesh Secretariata Clerk Recruitment Cancelled

Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to cancel the recruitment process conducted in which applications were invited for filling up of six posts of clerks in H.P. Secretariat reserved for persons with disabilities.

A short advertisement (No. 3950/2018-19) dated January 4, 2020, was published in newspaper on January 8, 2020, and January 9, 2020, and applications were also received from the desirous candidates.  

The recruitment was cancelled due to some administrative reason, the Government said.

Fresh advertisement in this regard would be floated separately, informed a spokesperson of the State Government on June 2.

 

 

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HP Health Dept Issues Clarification Over Alleged Irregularities in ‘Ventilator Purchase’

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Himachal Pradesh Health Department Ventilator purchase

Shimla-The Health and Family Welfare Department, Himachal Pradesh Government, today issued a clarification regarding alleged irregularities in purchase of ventilators in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.   

It’s pertinent to mention here that the Health Department is already under the scanner of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption Bureau for alleged scam in purchase of PPE kits which was reported on May 20 after an audio clip related to the same appeared. Following it, the Director, Health Services, AK Gupta was arrested and later suspended by the Government after a departmental inquiry.

Name of a leader of the ruling party was linked to the scam, following which Rajiv Bindal suddenly resigned. He said he resigned on “moral ground.”

Also Read: HP Health Dept Scam- There is More to It Than Just Alleged Bribery

This time, however, the Department was quick in releasing clarification.

After a news report appeared in the section of media based on a complaint of alleged irregularities in purchase of ventilators by the Health Department, a report with all documents was sought from the Director Health Services in this regard, said a spokesperson of the Department.

Also Read: Accused Ex-Director in Health Dept Scam Granted Bail

The Director, Health Services said that the Department intended to purchase the ventilators to strengthen all health centres of the Health Department.  For this, on March 28 2020, a committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Deputy Director Health Services to suggest technical standards for purchasing the ventilators and on the basis recommendation the purchase of ventilators were made.

The Spokesman said that the committee constituted at Directorate level under the chairmanship of Joint Director Health Services and the process for purchasing the ventilators was started and the rates and standards of ventilators available on GeM Portal were also studied.  The committee that on March 29, 2020, the rate of ventilator mentioned was Rs. 9.9 lakh.

Also Read: Official Suspended in ‘HP Secretariat Sanitizer Scam’

Meanwhile, the committee also studied the process of purchase of ventilators adopted by other states and it was observed that the Odisha Medical Supplies Corporation, which is an enterprise of the Odisha Government, had purchased the 20 joint ventilators on March 20, 2020, at the cost of Rs. 1.83 crore, which excluded GST.

“Keeping the value of time in mind and with the view to strengthen the Health Centres, the committee directed for purchase of 10 ventilators keeping, out of which seven ventilators were received on April 15, 2020, which were sent to Health institutions with immediately,”

 the spokesperson said.    

Director Health Services in his report informed that after that Haryana Medical Supplies Corporation purchased the above-mentioned ventilators on April 16, 2020, and the amount spent on each ventilator was Rs. 10.29 lakh, which is equal to the amount spent on the purchase of the entire lot by Directorate of Health Services.  Director Health Services in his report submitted that the cost of these ventilators on GeM Portal was Rs. 10.30 lakh till date.

The ventilators provided to Department include original instruments, medical air processor, basic accessories, adult/ paediatric, Neo-Natal implication accessories, optional accessories, ETCO 2 application accessories, SPO 2 application accessories, humidifier with a five-year warranty, the State Government has claimed.

The spokesperson said that Health Directorate has primarily found no irregularities in the purchase of ventilators. To make the process more transparent, a High-Level Investigation Committee would be constituted under the chairmanship Director Industries and Controller of stores. Director Medical Education, Principal IGMC and Deputy Controller Finance and Accounts, Directorate of Medical Education would be other members of the committee. The committee would submit its report within 10 days, the spokesperson informed.    

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