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Category Archives: Fiscal Freedom

How S.C. lawmakers increase their odds of staying in power – The Nerve

Posted: March 26, 2020 at 6:22 am

By RICK BRUNDRETT

Every 10 years, S.C. lawmakers re-exert their authority to draw legislative and congressional district lines based on updated population counts a typically convoluted process aimed at protecting incumbents.

While the 2020 U.S. Census is underway, state lawmakers quietly are planning to initially spend as much as $2 million on the reapportionment process, or the redrawing of district lines.

How those lines are drawn largely controlled by legislative leaders can greatly affect who wins elections, which areas are best represented, and what legislation gets approved.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that South Carolinas total population grew by more than 15% over the previous decade, resulting in the creation of a seventh U.S. House seat and realignment of legislative districts.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld partisan gerrymandering, allowing the political party that controls a state legislature to draw voting maps to help its candidates win elections.

In its recently passed, $32.3 billion state budget version for fiscal year 2020-21, the S.C. House appropriated $1 million for its 124-member chamber for reapportionment expenses, and approved an additional $1 million for unspecified operating expenses for the 46-member Senate.

Back in November, neither the House nor Senate would reveal to The Nerve any upcoming spending plans for their respective chambers after missing a legal deadline to file their proposed chamber budgets for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1.

State agencies are required by law to submit their proposed budgets to the governor by Nov. 1. But as The Nerve previously has reported, the Legislature in recent years often has ignored the law when it comes to their own chamber spending plans.

Gov. Henry McMaster in his proposed fiscal 2021 state budget version, which was released in January, recommended appropriating a total of $22.9 million and $15.4 million for the House and Senate chambers, respectively.

The House later proposed adding $1 million each to the House and Senate chamber budgets, though the House version didnt provide specifics on funding for redrawing legislative and congressional district lines. The Legislature approved similar funding for redistricting costs when the last U.S. Census was done, as The Nerve reported then.

The House and Senate, for example, collectively spent thousands of dollars on outside attorneys to defend the chambers in a federal lawsuit alleging racial gerrymandering in the 2011 redistricting plans, state comptroller general records show.

The Nerve recently asked House clerk Charles Reid and Senate clerk Jeff Gossett under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act for documents showing how exactly the proposed additional $1 million for each chamber would be spent.

A House attorney provided only general budget records showing the total requested amount for reapportionment expenses. Gossett didnt provide any records, saying only in a written response: The Senate has no documents specifically regarding the appropriation beyond what is in the (state budget) bill. However, the primary intention of this is to fund reapportionment and other expenses.

House records show that Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, proposed the additional $1 million for the House for one time expenses incurred due to reapportionment.

The Nerve last week asked Bannister for records related to his budget request, though no documents were provided by publication of this story. Bannisters proposal was designated in House records as a budget earmark, which typically is a funding request for a program or project that didnt originate with the state agency that would receive the public dollars.

The Nerve earlier this month revealed more than $51 million in earmarks in the Houses state budget version, including, for example, $19 million for a proposed downtown Greenville convention center and $7.5 million to renovate the Sumter Opera House.

Funding for those projects, as well as the proposed $1 million House chamber earmark, would come out of $945.5 million in actual and estimated nonrecurring state revenues, under the Houses state budget version. Whether the overall projected $1.8 billion-plus surplus for next fiscal year will materialize, however, is uncertain because of the states continuing coronavirus response.

Still, the House and Senate chambers have plenty of their own reserves to cover redistricting costs in fiscal 2021. Records show that at the start of this fiscal year, the Senate had $5.2 million in general fund reserves, while the House had a surplus of $23.3 million $666,401 more than its current total chamber budget.

Brundrett is the news editor of The Nerve (www.thenerve.org). Contact him at 803-254-4411 or rick@thenerve.org. Follow him on Twitter @RickBrundrett. Follow The Nerve on Facebook and Twitter @thenervesc.

Nervestories are free to reprint and repost with permission by and credit to The Nerve.

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MTS Awarded Seismic Simulation Project Valued At Over $70 Million For China’s National Facility For Earthquake Engineering Simulation At Tianjin…

Posted: at 6:22 am

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., March 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --MTS Systems Corporation (NASDAQ: MTSC), a leading global supplier of high-performance test systems, motion simulators and sensors, today announced it has been awarded the largest single order in its 54-year history, valued at over $70 million, to design, manufacture and install two of the world's largest, and most advanced seismic simulation systems at Tianjin University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China.

The project will be part of the new National Facility for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NFEES) on the Tianjin University campus in Tianjin, China. Upon completion, the earthquake simulation facility will be the largest and most powerful of its type, expanding the world's engineering science and technology research capabilities. It will play an important role in ensuring the safety of hydraulic engineering, buildings and bridges, wind energy generation, and offshore infrastructure.

The lab will include two separate test systems, both of which will be the largest of their type in the world. One system will be a six-degree-of-freedom seismic table with a working area of 16 x 20 meters and a 1350-ton specimen mass capacity, allowing for full-scale or near full-scale testing. The other system will consist of two 6 x 6-meter six-degree-of-freedom seismic tables, each capable of handling 150-ton specimens. These 6 x 6-meter tables will be designed to be submersible in up to three meters of water and configured for independent or synchronous testing. One of the underwater tables will be in a fixed location and the other may be positioned at different points along a 57-meter long trench allowing for testing of large specimens that vary in length, such as bridges, tunnels and pier structures. The basin will also employ wave and current generators to create different sea states to help determine the effects of water and waves on structures during an earthquake or tsunami event.

MTS was selected for this project due to a combination of extensive experience and expertise in creating the most advanced seismic simulation systems in the world, and a demonstrated capability to support sophisticated customers and applications in China. The entire project will be performed over the course of four years with scheduled completion in 2023.

"MTS' strong presence in China and proven systems integration expertise will contribute tremendously to the success of this project. As a leader in this market, MTS is one of the few companies in the world that has the demonstrated expertise in large-scale seismic simulation technology, and a proven capability to handle all the elements of a project of this scale, from the high-force motion control to the complex systems integration required for the simulation of earthquakes and tsunami events," states Dr. Jeffrey Graves, MTS President and CEO. "MTS is honored to be working with Tianjin University on this groundbreaking endeavor to better simulate seismic activity, providing information that will help design safer and more sustainable buildings, bridges and renewable energy infrastructure for China's future."

"We look forward to working closely with MTS to build the world's largest, most advanced seismic simulation systems, as essential elements of our National Facility for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. This project is similar in scale to other one-of-a-kind national research projects undertaken by the Chinese government in recent years," says Prof. Zhang Fengbao, Vice President of Tianjin University and Executive Chief Director of NFEES. "When complete, this state-of-the art facility, and its data and results will be shared with researchers from all countries, with a goal of improving the safety and sustainability of critical infrastructure in highly populated areas around the world. Tianjin welcomes all scientists and engineering experts to visit and help to further earthquake engineering simulation research."

About Tianjin UniversityTianjin University is the oldest institution of higher education in the modern history of China. Founded in 1895 as Peiyang University, Tianjin University's 125-year history is the epitome of the progress of modern Chinese higher education, embodying the Chinese people's indomitability through challenging times. During its growth spanning three centuries, the University has been a pioneer in several fields, from the first aero engine in China to the first Chinese hydraulics laboratory.

About MTS Systems CorporationMTS Systems Corporation'stesting and simulation hardware, software and service solutions help customers accelerate and improve their design, development and manufacturing processes and are used for determining the mechanical behavior of materials, products and structures. MTS' high-performance sensors provide measurements of vibration, pressure, position, force and sound in a variety of applications. MTS had 3,500 employees as of September 28, 2019 and revenue of $893 million for the fiscal year ended September 28, 2019. Additional information on MTS can befoundat:http://www.mts.com

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Letters to the editor, March 26, 2020 | Opinion – Idaho Press-Tribune

Posted: at 6:22 am

Appreciation

I appreciate the grocery stores giving special hours to seniors. However I went to Albertsons eagle store this morning. There were more people there than other times I have gone. There was severely more crowding of seniors with a greater chance of virus spread. With this concentration of elderly it only exacerbates the chance of a major outbreak with severe consequence of major death tolls in the neighborhood. The other problem was most of the shelves were empty of staples, whether produce bread, or meat in the meat counter. There were empty shelves on all isles. The store should be stocked as fully as possible before the seniors show up. This would reduce time shopping and reduce contact between people. I think the stores should think out these thing before announcing to the public, Seniors do need help but do not increase the chances for infections.

John Brown,

Eagle

Greed

With the mass hysteria and hoarding going on these days, surrounding COVID-19, I am reminded of a quote from Gandhi- The world has enough for everyones need, but not enough for everyones greed. These words could not be more timely than they are today. I have gone to two different grocery stores over the last few days, with my very short, and appropriate, grocery list. It took four trips to those stores just to get a few essential items. I saw people with overflowing carts, and many empty shelves in their wake. Some of the items, that were hard to find, made no sense to me. Produce and dairy products are perishable. Why buy more than you can possibly use in a day or two? Why buy a years supply of canned goods, and frozen foods, when you see that you are emptying the shelves, therefore denying your neighbor of those same items? Can we really call ourselves a civilized country, when we seem to be acting like its everyone for themselves? Luckily, I have also witnessed acts of kindness, which have restored my faith that there are still good people that walk among us. I came to work one evening after trying to get a few cans of chicken noodle soup for my husband, who is undergoing chemo. He is very limited in what he can eat these days. There wasnt a single can on the shelf. A coworker heard my plight and brought in two can of soup the next night from her own supply. Lets learn from people like her. We are in this together and will all come out better on the other side if we work together! I applaud the hard working people in the stores who work tirelessly to keep the shelves stocked!

Michal Voloshen,

Boise

Senior students are especially concerned about their college journey and decisions for next Fall. I want to remind seniors that they do not have to give an answer until May 1st (College Signing Day).

Tips: Take the time to revisit every colleges website that you have been accepted to.

1. Take a virtual tour and really pay attention to the details. Write down notes of pros and cons.

2. Review the department and the professors. Check what research is happening or news articles about the department professors.

3. Look at student satisfaction which can be found on https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/fisk

4. Review your financial aid packages of all colleges.

5. Look up clubs and contact the people listed who are in charge of the club by email.

6. Review past activities that are held in previous years.

7. If your major requires an internship, take a look at the companies that provide internships. Do some research on what interns do at the companies.

8. Review the help centers and the hours they are open. Are they available to everyone? How is it staffed?

9. Look up the research projects and grants that are taking place and research those students that were part of the research. Reach out to them.

10. Update your resume and start thinking about how you can help, whether it is at your home or in your community.

Rebecca Carroll,

Boise

Emergency

The U.S. Coronavirus Task Force and the Center for Disease Control have both recommended that non-emergency, elective surgery be postponed to free up hospital space and supplies to fight COVID-19. Planned Parenthood received 37% of their funding in the most recent fiscal year from U.S. taxpayers. The procedures that Planned Parenthood conducts require surgical supplies like gloves, masks, etc. What about ventilators in case of emergency? Planned Parenthood needs to suspend business as usual and get those supplies out to the hospitals and health care workers that really need them, now. This is a National Emergency!

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Howard Henning,

Nampa

A solution?

Most voters are continually amazed at how our Idaho Legislature can act and vote as if we are still in the 19th Century, and not the 21st Century.

The legislative agenda again this year appears to be single focused: How can we reduce property taxes? Forget about the fact that Idaho is in the bottom 1/3 of states in property tax rates, continues near the bottom in terms of school and teacher funding, refuses to listen to so many leaders of major businesses who need better educated employees or may have to move much of their employment base out of state (as Micron Technology has already done), fails to invest in our infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and finally, refuses to recognize transgender residents as people,......we could add more but it would be like flogging a dead horse.

I will suggest a partial remedy: Since the legislature has already had to adjudicate several laws in the past, and LOST those cases, costing our taxpayers about $3.5million, and since the Idaho Attorney General has already recommended against this law restricting transgenders, knowing it will cost as much as $1Million to defend, and finally, because the legislature feels so strongly about the righteousness of their transgender bill, they should be willing to pay the legal costs out of their own legislative budget. That would certainly change the dynamics.

Chas Bonner,

Eagle

Freedom

Well our state legislators have taken another step to denying women the right to make their own decisions. For those legislators who hate government intrusions on our rights as citizens. They have shown their hypocrisy . They scream and holler about gun rights / personal choices. The losers are women who want their rights to make decisions that affect them the rest of their life and kids life choices. As we all know the choice of having children is personal. The cost of feeding, providing a home and having personal expenses to raise a child have increased. Lots of single parents cannot afford daily expenses and now the legislators have event made it difficult for those who are forced to have a child. Okay I get it, you want no freedom of choice. Its now time for people who want this to step up and provide support or adoption to these women. If you are going force them to do this you need to make a plan for 17 years of support during their growing up years. Causing hardships for both women and children is cruel. Are these same people trying to get rid of death penalty here in Idaho? Be careful who you elect!

Larry Raganit,

Caldwell

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Letters to the editor, March 26, 2020 | Opinion - Idaho Press-Tribune

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Junk rating this week may be least of SA’s problems – Fin24

Posted: at 6:22 am

10:04 25/03/2020 Prinesha Naidoo and Sarina Yoo

As South Africa heads into a three-week lockdown that will shut down large parts of its already shrinking economy, a possible downgrade of its credit rating to "junk" on Friday could be the least of its problems.

Moodys Investors Service is scheduled to make an announcement at the end of the week and while it could end up taking no action, 19 of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect a negative ratings move. According to 12 respondents, the country will be cut to junk, while seven expect it to be placed on ratings watch for a downgrade, two expect it to be affirmed at current levels and two expect no statement.

Pessimism has been growing since Moodys in November cut the outlook on South African credit to negative and the February budget failed to show a debt-stabilisation path. The economy has slumped into its second recession in two years, a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which causes the Covid-19 respiratory disorder that has so far killed more than 17 000 people worldwide.

"The Covid-19 has certainly added to the underlying economic pressures," said Thabi Leoka, an independent economist in Johannesburg. "Debt seems to increase in perpetuity. This is a problem."

On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown that will go into effect at midnight on March 26, halting all activity except essential services. The restrictions are likely to weaken tax collections, increasing the burden on already-strained public finances. Government estimates in February showed the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP would widen to an almost three-decade high in the 12 months through March 2021.

That, and the governments debt burden, could now look even worse. The Treasury will have to reconsider its fiscal framework, Director-General Dondo Mogajane told the South African Broadcasting on Tuesday.

On the growth side, the picture is hardly any better. Moodys almost halved its forecast for 2020s expansion to 0.4% on March 6, when the country had just one confirmed infection. As of Tuesday it had 554, with 302 of those in Gauteng province, the countrys economic hub, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

"South Africas creditworthiness has deteriorated drastically," said George Herman, chief investment officer of Citadel Investment Services. "The longer the downgrade takes, the more damage it will cause."

But while a downgrade by Moodys would leave South Africa without an investment-grade rating for the first time in 25 years and cause it to be dropped from the FTSE World Government Bond Index, the negative impact on the rand may be muted. Thats because virus-driven fears have already resulted in significant outflows, driving the currency 14% lower against the dollar in the past month.

Given that backdrop, the reality of a long-feared downgrade could even come as a "relief," said Mike Schussler, chief economist at Economists.co.za. Freedom from worries about a downgrade could also free up South African monetary and fiscal policy decision makers to take decision action, he said, at a time when "rules have been dumped to help keep economies alive" globally.

Lumkile Mondi, an economics lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is the only respondent in the Bloomberg survey who expects the country will still have its investment-grade rating at Moodys at the end of 2020.

"South Africa has been saved by Covid-19, which requires massive investment by the state to save lives," Mondi said. "Covenants and other financial measurements have become secondary."

What Bloombergs Economist Says...

"President Cyril Ramaphosas swift and decisive handling of the crisis will probably stay Moodys hand for now until the extent of damage to the economy is fully understood." - Boingotlo Gasealahwe, Africa economist

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Junk rating likely the least of South Africas problems – BusinessTech

Posted: at 6:22 am

As South Africa heads into a three-week lockdown that will shut down large parts of its already shrinking economy, a possible downgrade of its credit rating to junk on Friday could be the least of its problems.

Moodys Investors Service is scheduled to make an announcement at the end of the week and while it could end up taking no action, 19 of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect a negative ratings move. According to 12 respondents, the country will be cut to junk, while seven expect it to be placed on ratings watch for a downgrade, two expect it to be affirmed at current levels and two expect no statement.

Pessimism has been growing since Moodys in November cut the outlook on South African credit to negative and the February budget failed to show a debt-stabilization path.

The economy has slumped into its second recession in two years, a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which causes the Covid-19 respiratory disorder that has so far killed more than 17,000 people worldwide.

The Covid-19 has certainly added to the underlying economic pressures, said Thabi Leoka, an independent economist in Johannesburg. Debt seems to increase in perpetuity. This is a problem.

On Monday night, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown that will go into effect at midnight on March 26, halting all activity except essential services. The restrictions are likely to weaken tax collections, increasing the burden on already-strained public finances. Government estimates in February showed the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP would widen to an almost three-decade high in the 12 months through March 2021.

That, and the governments debt burden, could now look even worse. The Treasury will have to reconsider its fiscal framework, Director-General Dondo Mogajane told the South African Broadcasting Corp on Tuesday.

On the growth side, the picture is hardly any better. Moodys almost halved its forecast for 2020s expansion to 0.4% on March 6, when the country had just one confirmed infection. As of Tuesday it had 554, with 302 of those in Gauteng province, the countrys economic hub, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

South Africas creditworthiness has deteriorated drastically, said George Herman, chief investment officer of Citadel Investment Services. The longer the downgrade takes, the more damage it will cause.

But while a downgrade by Moodys would leave South Africa without an investment-grade rating for the first time in 25 years and cause it to be dropped from the FTSE World Government Bond Index, the negative impact on the rand may be muted. Thats because virus-driven fears have already resulted in significant outflows, driving the currency 14% lower against the dollar in the past month.

Given that backdrop, the reality of a long-feared downgrade could even come as a relief, said Mike Schussler, chief economist at Economists.co.za. Freedom from worries about a downgrade could also free up South African monetary and fiscal policy decision makers to take decision action, he said, at a time when rules have been dumped to help keep economies alive globally.

Lumkile Mondi, an economics lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is the only respondent in the Bloomberg survey who expects the country will still have its investment-grade rating at Moodys at the end of 2020.

South Africa has been saved by Covid-19, which requires massive investment by the state to save lives, Mondi said. Covenants and other financial measurements have become secondary.

What Bloombergs Economist Says

President Cyril Ramaphosas swift and decisive handling of the crisis will probably stay Moodys hand for now until the extent of damage to the economy is fully understood.

Read: Will Moodys skip its ratings decision on South Africa because of the coronavirus?

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Brexiteer claims coronavirus could spell end of eurozone but there’s a catch – Express.co.uk

Posted: at 6:22 am

This is the view on independent economist Julian Jessop, who said Brexit has afforded the UK more freedom on monetary policy than those remaining in the EU. It comes as some countries in the bloc disagree on how to approach the economic challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. Mr Jessop told Express.co.uk: "If the eurozone as a whole is providing a lot of support for an individual country, that means Germany is effectively bailing out Italy, which is great if you are Italian but not if you are German.

"That has always been the problem. If you have a single currency and a single monetary policy, that is only sustainable if you have got a single fiscal policy and banking policy and other things.

"You are either all in or all out. The direction of travel is either that the euro breaks apart or that there is much more closer integration amongst eurozone members.

"This would include common fiscal policies and effectively common governance which is why I think it is good that we are out of it."

However, while Mr Jessop believes the eurozone is flawed, he also argues that leaders in Europe have the "political will" to ensure the currency bloc doesn't split.

He said: "I have been predicting the collapse of the euro for years and it still hasn't happened, so I wouldn't underestimate the political will to keep it together, even if economically it makes no sense at all.

"I think they will probably find some way of keeping it together and patching over the cracks, but fundamentally it is a very weak system economically and politically.

"It wouldn't surprise me if at some point it falls apart [but] in this particular circumstance they will pull out all the stops again to prevent this from happening."

Although the currency will survive the coronavirus pandemic, in Mr Jessop's view, he also highlights that this shows a key positive of Brexit.

READ MORE:Brexit betrayal: Norway treated with goodwill as UK faces pushback

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Statement of the Hellenic Chapter of Republicans Overseas- Abroad on Greek Independence Day – The National Herald

Posted: at 6:22 am

ATHENS A Statement of the Hellenic Chapter of Republicans Overseas- Abroad on the occasion of the celebration of the March 25th 2020 Hellenic Independence Day:

The world is in upheaval due to the Chinese virus. Has this ever happened before? Actually it has, SARS, MERS, Spanish Influenza, just to name a few. The world is in panic, and under a new terror attack from an invisible enemy. What do we do? Ignoring the problem wont solve it, nor will trying to play party politics, as Pelosi and her gang are doing, solve it either. These actions will just kill people, kill businesses, kill our Great Nation.

America is the world economic and military leader, though heavily challenged by the Chinese despotic Communist Party and its cronies. We won, with the invaluable participation of our Allies two world wars against oppression, and we steered the free world away from the Cold War. Among those true Allies, Greece was always present and at the forefront of all battles. Now we are trying to avert the new 50 year Cold War caused by the economic and military buildup of the new emerging superpower, China, which sadly has greatly benefited from our frivolous past policies.

We are at a turning point. Choices must be made. Do we do away with the old rusty foreign-serving policies of appeasement to Chinese aggression so favoured by our Democratic opponents, or do we serve the free world with a pro-active and pro-freedom policy as demonstrated by the US leadership over the past three and a half years? Do we make China pay for the economic and humanitarian disaster it caused to us all, or do we keep on hanging on to old policies of accepting Chinese infiltration and corrosion through bribes, donations, and media subversion. Dont forget, China lied, people died.

Now it is the time to stand tall and proud as Americans, but also as citizens of the World, it is a time to stand together in the face of this enemy. We are at war. A war against the Chinese virus, but also against disinformation, lies, fake news and mostly subversive and anti-American practices. We the people must stand in unison against the common enemy, to save our lives, to save our jobs, to save our economies, to save our Great Nations, and to save the free world from the tyranny which is quickly brewing outside, but also inside our borders.

Keep America Great Again. Make Greece Great Again. These are wise phrases, as America must be strong within and outside its borders, and so must Greece. We must guard our borders from enemies within, from those who seek to profit from our demise as the Greatest Nation on earth, either politically, or financially, stealing our industrys secrets, our military hardware, our wealth and well-being, or to impose upon us through short-sighted or straight out traitor politicians, policies which will reduce us to the level of a small regional power. In Greeces case this would mean that there would be actual loss of territory to its adversaries.

We as the Hellenic Chapter of Republicans Overseas, live in a country, member of NATO, a country which has been close to the United States for over 200 years, a true ally, who always has been there when they were called upon, and a nation which, through the Hellenic diaspora, has greatly contributed to the American Dream, either in the economic sector, or the Academic, Public Administration and Military Sectors.

Our second country Greece, is simultaneously being attacked by two enemies. One is the invisible Chinese virus, and the second is the ongoing attack of the Greek borders by its neighbor Turkey.

On the Chinese virus front, Greece is doing very well, as the present Government with the tacit consent of most of the opposition parties, had dealt with the problem speedily, effectively and will brace the brunt of the battle better prepared than many other nations, despite the fact that it has entered this new conflict battered by years of forced austerity and severe cuts to its health system, actions which were forced upon her by the EU and Germany, who have greatly profited from Greeces demise.

Greek PM mr. Mitsotakis, has mustered full public support on his stern handling of the situation, and comes out politically strengthened by his no-nonsense, tough stance during this ongoing war. His choice of associates seems to have also panned out rather well, as contrary to past failures in Greek politics, he has assembled an excellent team of key persons of competence in charge of this difficult situation.

Alas, the economic impact of the Chinese virus to Greek economy will be devastating. As we predict that at least the full month of April and probably half of the month of May will be completely lost, as the lockdown must be preserved to maintain the current level of Public Health protection, the results on the GDP will probably surpass the -5,6% level predicted recently for the current fiscal year. Added to that the fact that the tourist season which supplies approximately 20% of the yearly revenue, will be sliced at least in half, if the best scenario is upheld, things will be very rough for the government in the second half of the fiscal year, as it will not be able to provide sufficient aid to workers and businesses. We really doubt wether the EU will come true on its promise to provide fiscal relief, as we predict that relief will be mostly aimed to Central European countries, under the pretext of supporting manufacturing companies, few of which exist in Greece, as in the past 20 years, under EU directives, Greece has suffered a severe de-industrialization and has relied on tourism which will be crushed this year. Already Germany is flatly refusing to support the subsidies to European nations under the Euro-bond sheme and has clearly indicated that the maximum it would accept is a strict memorandum of compliance to the repayment of debts incurred by Italy, in an effort to curb the rise in power of the current opposition leader mr. Salvini.

Greeks though would be willing to suffer the impending recession were it not for the increasing risk on their Eastern borders. As our EastMed Strategic Studies Institute (operating under the auspices of the Hellenic Chapter of Republicans Overseas) has many times indicated, a further escalation of Greek Turkish hostilities is imminent. Greece is facing a continuing hybrid war from Turkey, which consists in the weaponising of illegal immigrants, wether they have already arrived in Greece and are living in camps or have been dispersed in the Greek territory, or are in the process of being inserted to Greece from the northern Evros region by land or in the Greek island by sea.

Turkey, which is also being dealt a devastating blow by the Chinese virus, is notorious for trying to export its internal problems by instigating, either outblown invasions, or border conflicts. We predicted some weeks ago (on Jan 10thwe predicted the exact date as being between Feb 25 and March 2ond- it happened on Feb 27), that before Greek Easter (April 19) Turkey would instigate a border conflict, or attempt to drill in the Greek Maritime Exclusive Zone. We are reassessing our time frame, as we assume that this action may be delayed, but at any rate come before the month of Ramadan, which starts on Thursday, April 24.

Turkey tested Greek reflexes after its virtual invasion of the Greek borders on February 27thand though it did not achieve its primary target, which was to facilitate the entry of +20.000 illegal migrants (mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan) in Greece, managed to force the Greek government to accept the re-location of the 40.000 illegal migrants currently residing in Greek islands to the mainland and their dissemination to various locations in the Greek mainland.

Turkeys secondary target is the destabilization of the Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean. Turkey, especially now that it is faced with the Chinese virus pandemic, is certain to put the blame on migrants for the virus and ship them off to Greece, which will probably place them again in the island camps, which in no time will fill up again, leaving the Greek government with the great dilemma of wether to let them stay there and fuel the dissent of the island populations, or move them to the mainland and face the fury of the rest of the population. These migrants, having lived in Turkey, and being subsceptible to ISIS, HAMAS and DAESH influences are an ideal sleeping Turkish weapon, well placed and dispersed in Greek territory, to be used accordingly in the future.

Due to the pressure from key NGO figures, some of which were in very high positions of authority, both in the previous and the present government, and the pressure from Academia, the liberal press, and mainly Germany and E.U. the Greek government has flatly refused to consider the creation of migrant camp in strategically non sensitive sparsely populated areas or islands in Greece, which would solve the problem as well as alleviate public outrage, as well as serious dissent within the ruling party. This situation acts as a political time bomb, which eventually will explode and totally vaporize the current public support for the Greek PM, unless of course Greece decides to tackle the problem and remove all the illegal migrants from both the Greek mainland and East Aegean islands, and completely sever all ties between the NGOs and its migrant problem. Now would be an ideal timing for the Greek government to implement such a measure, as due to the Chinese virus situation, the German led EU is most likely to ignore this development, as it is busy trying to alleviate the humanitarian disaster it is facing from the effects of the pandemia. The recent border warfare in Evros between Greece and Turkey was proof enough that Germany is not prepared to lift a finger in Greeces defense and risk damaging its preferential relations with Turkey.

The third and most important strategic objective of the Turkish State is the cancellation of the 3+1 alliance and the assumption by Turkey of a leading role in the transport and production of energy products in the EastMed region. This already has been set in motion via the Erdogan-Sarage deal, the close cooperation between Hamas and Turkey and the alienation of Greece and Israel which would be accomplished if the Arab MPs manage to control Israeli politics and simultaneously, Greek leftist and internationalist forces manage to resurrect the fading pro-Palestinian doctrine in Greek politics. At a closing thought on Turkey, we are very seriously concerned about the ever increasing proximity of the relations between Turkey and Pakistan, in light of the fact that many Turkish fighter jets are manned by Pakistani pilots but mainly due to the fact that Turkey has expressed its desire to become a nuclear power, a possibility that could come via Pakistan. We are wondering why Greece still elects to permit tens of thousands of Pakistani illegal migrants to remain within its borders and thus subsidize Pakistans economy by pumping millions of euros daily in cash transfers from Greece to Pakistan. Greece is in an ideal position to use their deportation as leverage against any passive or active Pakistani involvement in the EastMed region, even to the extent of cancelling arms sales by Turkey to Pakistan.

It will not be the same world at the end of this pandemic, countries will run heavily into debt, some more, some less, especially those as Greece which have surrendered their fiscal policies to foreign organizations, such as the EU. Countries will be called on to reassess their foreign and domestic policies. Issues, such as outsourcing and de-industrialization will be rethought, as the pandemic showed that globalization cannot serve the peoples of the planet in times of crisis. Critical supplies were not available to citizens, countries such as China, Germany, even Turkey hoard or confiscate supplies and later sell them at exorbitant prices to other countries in need. But mainly, the peoples in all the globe realized that countries in times of crisis need to be partially self-sufficient and maintain strategic supplies of certain materials and raw products. This was a lesson learned, but we really hope is that it will be a lesson remembered.

We sincerely hope that both our Great Nations, America and Greece overcome the Chinese virus with the least damages. It is time for us to forge and cement our Great Alliance, and extend it to countries around us, such as Israel, Cyprus and Egypt and move on with the 3+1 defensive pact which will finally provide stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Chinese Virus taught us that we must forget old preconceptions, the Hamas-engineered attempted invasion of Greek borders shows us that Turkey has forged new alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean, both with its puppet government in Libya, as well as with the terrorist organizations Hamas, DAESH and ISIS from whom it is drawing strategic planning and personnel in its hybrid war against Greece which is far from over.

The ball is now in the Greek governments court, there are steps which we have indicated in the past that must be made, there is no time, and mostly the enemy has been partially revealed.In both attacks against its country, the Greek government has learned that no action equals defeat and traditional greek procrastination and tactics of appeasement lead only to defeat upon defeat.

On this very important date for the Greek People, that of the celebration of the 199thyear since the onset of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman empire, Greece is still fighting for its Independence, this time from other threats, domestic and foreign, from friends and foes.

This is the time for the Washington, Athens, Jerusalem and Nikosia to get even closer, as they are the bastions of Democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean, and this with great haste, as the clouds of conflict are weighing heavily upon the Free World.

Athens, March 24th2020

Jonathan Constantine

Chairman

Hellenic Chapter Republicans Overseas-Abroad

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Statement of the Hellenic Chapter of Republicans Overseas- Abroad on Greek Independence Day - The National Herald

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Governor calls for stronger collaboration with Kilili – Marianas Variety

Posted: at 6:22 am

In his letter, Governor Torres reaffirmed the need for collaboration to ensure additional federal assistance that require congressional approval.

As this government utilizes its limited resources to respond to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it is clear that no other community in the United States is affected by a pandemic of this size and magnitude than the people of the CNMI, Governor Torres said.

To respond to both the public health crisis and the unfolding fiscal and economic crisis facing our people, I have unleashed every resource available to the CNMI government to halt the spread of this disease to our people and mitigate the existential threat the loss of financial resources of this size will have on the necessary and essential services of government.

The CNMI government and the people we serve need immediate assistance from the federal government. Historically, the CNMI and the territories of the United States have been treated separately than the states of our nation in apportioning the benefits of federal programs. This has impacted the viability of our economies and resulted in a system that has leveled us with dramatically unequal outcomes. This systemic inequality can be remedied if Congress can recognize the exceptionality of our hardships in this crisis and act with an equally unique response.

Governor Torres then provided an extensive list of recommendations that require necessary action within the U.S. Congress in order to prevent longstanding effects to the Commonwealth:

Settlement Fund

The largest and most concerning obligation of the CNMI is the obligations outlined in the Settlement Agreement with the United States District Court on the CNMIs pension program. The Settlement Fund that was established as a result of this agreement provides for mandatory minimum payments to the fund to ensure continued benefits for the CNMI governments retirees. This year, the $44 million obligation is the largest single item of the Commonwealths budget.

Efforts have been made to safeguard this payment while allowing flexibility within the CNMIs finances for this trying period. Through the constitutionally authorized Pension Obligation Bond vehicle, the shifting of this judgment obligation to a long-term debt service obligation would provide greater levels of resiliency to manage cyclical downturns in the economy or unexpected shocks to our community in the form of natural disasters or, as we see now, global pandemics.

The CNMI however, cannot at this time, offer the financial markets the security necessary to obtain affordable financing options. This is due to the structural deficiencies of our economy that are inherent in a location the size and nature of ours, and the persistent risks of external threats such as typhoons, tourism volatility, and negative ramifications of federal government actions and policy.

In meeting these obligations, Congress can support the alleviation of this large obligation while allowing the CNMI government the opportunity to undertake additional structural reforms. Congressional action should also seek to allow for a federal guarantee to backstop our efforts to obtain financing to support our retirees. A federal guarantee of CNMI pension obligation bonds may give the market greater confidence in lending the necessary resources to the CNMI government so we may prioritize limited funding to supporting other critical public services.

100% federal match for Medicaid funds

Increasing Medicaid funds is a significant lifeline to the majority of our population and enhances the critical access to healthcare services in response to this health crisis. For the CNMI, however, this is both a health crisis and a financial crisis. Increasing the amount available for CNMI Medicaid beneficiaries creates a larger base for which limited local resources are required to match. Even at a reduced local share, increasing the total amount available, while the necessary measure to take, continues to impact the CNMI governments finances, which should equally be of concern to Congress.

I ask that in addition to increased Medicaid funding to the territories, the territories receive these funds at 0% local match for a duration of time so that the population continues to receive the critical health care services they need while recognizing that the economic collapse we currently experience does not impede that access.

100% federal match for FEMA projects

Eliminating the local share for FEMA programs provided in response to Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut are necessary to reduce the financial burden on the Commonwealth government, while allowing for economic activity to continue, employment to grow in the related sectors, and for local funds to be appropriated to critical functions of government.

Increase Capital Improvement Program and Technical Assistance Funds to OIA

Allowing for additional funds to be available in the Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs budget for the territories under the Technical Assistance Program and to the CNMI under the CIP program, is a necessary request to gain critical access to finances that would enable the CNMI to navigate the evolving circumstances posed by the Covid-19 outbreak. Further, I reiterate my previous request to increase the CIP appropriation to adjust for inflation.

During this time of financial hardship, I request that you push for a similar allowance given to the American Samoan government to use the CIP allotment to cover some operational expenses of the CNMI government. We wish to obtain the freedom to work with OIA in utilizing these funds to offset recurring obligations of the Commonwealth government.

Forgive federal student loans for taxpayers in the CNMI

What is at the heart of our financial difficulties is a significantly diminished consumer demand due to the collapse of our tourism industry. To increase overall demand, removing the encumbrances on our populations disposable income is of absolute necessity. Congress should provide an avenue for complete student loan forgiveness for all residents of the CNMI and U.S. Territories who have obtained federal financing for education under 20 U.S.C. 1087(a) et seq.

Provide 100% federal cover-over for the Earned Income Tax Credit

The CNMI needs more external resources to reach the hands of our population in order to mitigate the effects of lost income and wages from the collapse of our tourism industry. Congress should quickly allow for a 100% federal cover-over of Earned Income Tax Credit payments made in the upcoming tax filings so that residents can offset the damage caused to individual finances during this crisis. Anything less than 100% would represent a severe burden to an already over-burdened fiscal scenario and threatens the viability of our governments financial stability and should be avoided.

Ensure refundable and nonrefundable credits created in response provide a cover-over of funds to the CNMI Treasury

As the CNMIs representative to Congress, I am asking for your diligence in ensuring that any credit (refundable or nonrefundable) created in response to the Covid-19 outbreak do not negatively impact the CNMIs finances. As you are aware, as a mirror-code jurisdiction, the CNMI adopts the provisions created within the Internal Revenue Code. If a credit is created to mitigate the economic impacts of this crisis, that credit must contain provisions to provide for a federal cover-over of funds from the U.S. Treasury to the CNMI Treasury. A lack of vigilance in this matter could greatly worsen the CNMIs financial position and impact our ability to provide critical services to our people.

Amend U.S. Public Law 115-218

We must be cognizant of the extent to which this crisis has crippled the CNMI economy. Action should be taken in this opportunity to recognize the economic impact the CW-1 program has on our future economic growth opportunities and amend provisions of the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act that will further impede our economic recovery.

I ask that you include a complete elimination of the requirement for CW-1 employees to return to their country of origin for a 30-day period prior to submitting a renewal petition for the third renewal period. This loss of a quarter of our workforce during this period will result in a tremendous reduction in productivity and revenue for employers and will most certainly lead to even greater business closures in the months ahead.

Further, we must recognize the need to eliminate the prohibition on construction workers under the CW-1 program in its entirety as we will require access to construction trades to undertake development and redevelopment projects to rebuild sectors of our economy that were not impacted by Super Typhoon Yutu, but have been impacted by this outbreak.

Additionally, we must recognize the significance of this downturn in the business cycle and allow for the prevailing wage determination to be eliminated for this fiscal year so that businesses can make the necessary personnel adjustments within the private sector to keep the current level of employment steady. Already, due to the effects of this outbreak, unemployment has surged as businesses are forced to close their doors in an effort to halt the spread of this disease. Increasing the cost of labor at this timeframe will destroy opportunities for employees throughout our labor force and result in further delays in our recovery.

Increase federal funding opportunities for the Public School System

The CNMI governments revenues do not provide the adequate levels of funding to support our Public School System. Even after providing 25% of their constitutionally mandated share of general revenues, the current economic conditions are not producing sufficient financial resources to ensure adequate funding for our students. There is no way around this fact.

I ask that we do all we can to increase the amount of funding available to our PSS and provide for greater flexibility in the use of these funds so that our school administrators have the resources to provide the best for our students during these difficult times.

Provide Expediency to the Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery

The CNMI must make every effort to push forward with available federal resources to increase economic activity and stimulate employment within our islands. The CDBG-DR program provides these resources, however, states across the nation have recognized the obstacles created by federal law that slow the release of these funds. To provide expediency for the release of this programs benefits, I request that Congress do the following:

Remove the restriction on the use of these funds for purposes tied directly to covered disasters so these resources can be mobilized in support of recovery from this most recent disaster

Waive NEPA compliance requirements for activities funded by this program

Reduce the standard requirements for Citizen Participation related to the Action Plan

Governor Torres closed his letter with a renewed call for teamwork and collaboration for the greater good of the CNMI during this public health and global economic crisis

This is a disaster of unprecedented proportions for the CNMI. As such, the needs of the community are constantly evolving. Above all, I ask for your cooperation in continuing productive dialogue as it relates to the needs of our people and this government. This administration is doing its utmost to avert a greater disaster if we do not adequately respond to the multitude of issues presenting themselves today.

Theres too much at stake for our people and our islands. However, I am confident that if I can get your support to push these necessary measures in Congress, we will be better positioned to help every individual and family in the Marianas get through these tough and unprecedented times.

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Will the market stabilise in the second half of 2020, what experts say? – Kalkine Media

Posted: at 6:22 am

The boredom clearly seems to be sketched on the faces while you struggle to work from home, adapting to the new norm of social distancing. As looking through the balconies to find the deserted alleys remains the only interaction with the outside world, the eerie stillness envelops the hearts. The ports being sealed, the flights cancelled, and the borders closed, it looks like the world no longer remains a global village. As the distance between the nations, cities and even the people appear to be stretching, the cravings for humdrum and commotion that once we grumbled about have heightened.

The life seems to be caged in shackles, and the hazy vision amidst the deadly Covid-19 scenario restricts our every endeavour. Whilst the health professionals and drug researcher together battle against the medical emergency, the economists brace themselves for Tsunami as the waves of market downfall crashes upon the nations. The world economy stands to be at terrible risk at the current time when the blue-collar workers dust-off their hands, industries shutters their din and people garner a single-centric conservative focus.

Looking at the detrimental epidemic cascading ghastly upon the global economic scenario, the governments, along with the world agencies, are taking up various measures to release the abducted freedom of the world. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva highlighting the immeasurable human cost and negative growth outlook for 2020 forecasted recession of the scale similar to the previous global financial crisis.

With the cases exceeding to over 0.37 million worldwide on 24 March, the S&P ASX 200 fell by around 1,948 points or 29.1% on a YTD basis. While IMF plans to disburse 50 million USD to emerging and low-income markets, many governments announced a fiscal package to support the people in the hours of need. The Australian Government has released three stimulus packages all directed to ensure that economy sails smoothly amidst the brimming storm. The central banks across the different countries through liberalising the fiscal policies have joined the bandwagon to prevent the economic fortress from falling.

Source: ASX

Despite the world together embarking on the quivering journey against the epidemic, the uncertainty yet clouds our very minds. While the duration of the pandemic still remains an enigma, the growing dilemma amidst such incoherent situation demands calculated investment moves. Even the experts seem to be divided on their notions regarding the future state of affairs in the stocks market. A few optimistically expects the bounce-back, some fears the long-term economic upheavals and many specialists provides investment suggestions.

Considering the relevance of the sound knowledge in the stock market, let us see what the experts have to say about the future market prospects

A gleaming hope for future

Head of the portfolio strategy at Evercore ISI, Dennis DeBusschere chose to highlight on the buying opportunities in the stock market at lower prices amidst the outbreak generated uncertainty. He stressed on the short-term volatility of the market and suggested to include stocks with strong fundamentals.

The Global Investment Strategist at ProShares, Simeon Hyman citing uncertainty to be the significant reason of volatility highlighted that while investors are not aware of the ultimate impact of Covid-19, the history provides positive hope that the tough time would pass and the market would recover.

In the last two months, the stocks have shown a sinusoidal pattern that rekindles optimism amongst the investors. On 25 March 2020, the shares rallied as S&P/ASX 200 rose by 262.4 points. The uptrend movement in stocks resonates with the statement of Bahnsen Groups CIO, David Bahnsen, who a few days back highlighted the utter silliness of the investors trying to time the market entry and exit.

Or maybe a depressive year ahead?

While many experts refrained from abandoning positive prospects in the current bear market, Vicky Redwood, who works as a Senior Economic Advisor at Capital Economics highlighted the vulnerability of the complex and extended supply chain. He cited coronavirus as one of the factors that would propel decoupling between China and the West, thereby accentuating the de-globalisation process.

The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that coronavirus could lead to around 20% unemployment in the U.S, double than 2008 financial crisis signifying terrible economic worries.

Experts Suggestions

For the investors with high-risk appetite, Amit Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, Ashika Wealth Advisors suggested opting for the mid-caps while the others can invest in mid-caps through mutual funds.

While the confusions hovered over the stock market, the experts provided critical opinions to protect the investors. Stefan Iris said that although people were in a wavering situation that may continue for weeks or months, the investors should stay-put and avoid cashing out of their stock market position.

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Will the market stabilise in the second half of 2020, what experts say? - Kalkine Media

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A pandemic, an economic blow and the big fix – The Hindu

Posted: March 24, 2020 at 6:09 am

India has just finished a day of curfew and clapping to practise social distancing and to express gratitude to the millions of health and essential services workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a laudable initiative by the Prime Minister to rally the nation together. The nation is truly at war, as he alluded to, and it can be won only by everyone coming together in this tragedy of the commons.

Also read: Janata Curfew: You created festival-like conditions in an atmosphere of fear and concern, Sanjay Raut tells PM Modi

But just two days before our clapping, the Indian-origin Finance Minister of the United Kingdom unveiled the U.K.s biggest economic recovery package in its history, as an antidote to the crisis; there is no fixed cost to it. The United States is finalising a trillion-dollar economic recovery package, while Germany is going ahead with unlimited government financing for the disruptions due to the outbreak. France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands have all launched a half-a-trillion dollars combined in recovery measures. If this reads like panic, consider this one data point the number of people who lost their jobs, in just the last two weeks in America is the highest ever weekly job losses recorded in its history. These large, developed economies are expected to not merely slow down, but to contract and experience negative growth. The economic devastation will be much more painful and longer than the health impact.

While the rest of the world has sprung into action, India has merely announced the setting up of a task force under the Finance Minister to explore economic recovery options. This lackadaisical approach is unconscionable. Contrary to rhetoric, neither will India be immune to this imminent economic crisis nor will some preternatural force insulate us from this epidemic. It is prudent to swing into action right away to soften the inevitable economic blow.

There are already reports that a third of all restaurants could shut down in the formal sector alone and shed more than 20 lakh jobs, in the coming months. The entire automotive sector is shutting down its factories, putting at risk the incomes of a million people employed in this sector. When people lose their jobs, entire families suffer, consumption drops and overall demand collapses. When businesses close down, then they default on their commercial obligations down the chain and to their financiers. This freezes up credit flow in the economy and halts production. Since this is a global crisis, it is not even possible for India to import and export its way to recovery. Under such painful conditions, India needs a comprehensive recovery package that will first cushion the shock and then help the economy recover.

In my discussions with former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and economists, there was near unanimity that the package should rest on four pillars: providing a safety net for the affected; addressing disruptions in the real economy; unclogging the impending liquidity squeeze in the financial system, and incentivising the external sector of trade and commerce. So here is a broad plan for a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Package for India.

The destruction of jobs, incomes and consumption can be addressed through a direct cash transfer of 3,000 a month, for six months, to the 12 crore, bottom half of all Indian households. This will cost nearly 2.2-lakh crore and reach 60 crore beneficiaries, covering agricultural labourers, farmers, daily wage earners, informal sector workers and others. It is important that this is not just a one-month income boost but, instead, a sustained income stream for at least six months for the millions who have lost their incomes, to provide them a safety net and a sense of confidence. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM KISAN) programme with a budget of 75,000 crore can be subsumed into this programme.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) must be expanded and retooled into a public works programme, to build much-needed hospitals, clinics, rural roads and other infrastructure. This can be achieved by integrating MGNREGA with the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and the roads and bridges programme. These three programmes together have a budget of nearly 1.5 lakh crore. This must be doubled to 3 lakh crore and serve as a true Right to Work scheme for every Indian who needs it.

In addition, the Food Corporation of India is overflowing with excess rice, wheat and unmilled paddy stocks enough excess stock to provide 10kg rice and wheat to every Indian family, free of cost, through the Public Distribution System.

This combination, of a basic income of 3,000 a month, a right to work and food grains, will provide a secure safety net.

COVID-19 testing, treatment, medical equipment and supplies capacity can be expanded through the private sector and be reimbursed directly for patient care. This will need a budget of 1.5- lakh crore for testing and treating at least 20 crore Indians through the private sector. This will help create a large number of jobs in the private health-care sector, with trickle-down benefits.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a 1.5-lakh crore liquidity and credit backstop facility on Monday, which is a very welcome move. Further, the RBI should show regulatory forbearance and also set up a credit guarantee fund for distressed borrowers for credit rollover and deferred loan obligation.

The central bank must also immediately reduce interest rates drastically to spur business activity. A two-year tax holiday and an appropriate incentive scheme must be designed for exports and service sectors that have been devastated (airlines, tourism, hospitality, entertainment, logistics, textiles, leather). This could cost the exchequer between 1-lakh crore and 2-lakh crore.

In sum, the total incremental expenditure for the recovery package will be between 5-lakh crore to 6-lakh crore for FY2021. The next obvious question is: Where is the money for this?

The 5-lakh crore to 6-lakh crore recovery package can be funded largely thorough three sources reallocation of some of the budgeted capital expenditure, expenditure rationalisation, and the oil bonanza.

Given the extraordinary situation the world is facing, it is important to reprioritise our expenditure plan in the near term. The government had budgeted more than 4-lakh crore in capital expenditure for FY2021. This will, unfortunately, have to be reworked and some part of it allocated to the COVID-19 recovery package. For example, there is a budget of 40,000 crore for the revival of the telecom public sector units which can be delayed and the amount reallocated.

Similarly, the budget of nearly 1-lakh crore for national highways, roads and bridges can be rationalised to reallocate this to the recovery package. It is possible to extract a total of 1-lakh crore for the package out of the 4-lakhcrore budgeted capital expenditure for FY2021.

Fifty-four ministries in the Union government of India made a demand for grants and a total of 30-lakh crore has been budgeted as total expenditure for FY2021. Of these, 13 large ministries account for as much of the Budget expenditure as the remaining 41 ministries combined. There is ample scope to rationalise expenditure in these 41 ministries to extract 2-lakh crore for the recovery package.

The blessing in disguise for India is the dramatic fall in global crude oil prices from $40 a barrel to an estimated $20 a barrel which can help save nearly 2-lakh crore; this can be used to fund the recovery package or make up for shortfall of tax revenues.

To be sure, there will be a fiscal implication of this stimulus package and the fiscal deficit will rise driven both by increased expenditure and shortfall of revenues from the slowing economy. But now is not the time for fiscal conservatism.

It is often asked why the States cannot embark on an economic stimulus plan. The States combined incur an expenditure of 40 lakh crore. There can be some sharing of expenditure of the recovery package of 1-2 lakh crore by the States. But after Goods and Services Tax (GST), States do not have the fiscal freedom to raise tax revenues on their own. They are largely dependent on the Centre for their tax revenues through direct taxes and GST.

In summary, India needs an immediate relief package of 5-lakh crore to 6-lakh crore targeted across all sections of society and sectors of the economy. Though daunting, the money for this can be found through detailed analysis and some bold thinking. The global economy is headed for a dark phase and it is our duty to rise to the challenge to secure the future of all Indians.

It is time to think big, bold and radical to pull our economy out of this crisis. This is Indias moment for the equivalent of the New Deal that U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt launched in America after the Great Depression of 1929.

Praveen Chakravarty is a political economist and a senior office-bearer of the Congress party. The article has been written with inputs from former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and other economists and policy experts

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