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Corporate Tax Rate Cut From 30% To 25.2% To Spur Growth

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, Sep 20: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced reduction of corporate tax on domestic firms in a bid to boost the sluggish economy, hurt by slowing demand across sectors, especially manufacturing that is among the highest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“To promote growth, a new provision has been inserted in the income tax act with effect from fiscal year 2019-20, which allows any domestic company to pay income tax at the rate of 22% subject to condition they will not avail any incentive or exemptions To provide relief to companies which continue to avail incentive or exemptions, even for them we are giving a Minimum Alternate Tax(MAT) relief, the MAT rate has been reduced to 15% from the existing 18.5%,” Sitharaman said.


She said the new effective tax rate will be reduced from 30 per cent to 25.2 per cent, which includes all surcharges and is applicable on those companies that aren’t availing any incentives.

Sitharaman said that the new companies coming up in manufacturing will be taxed at 15% if they forego exemptions and incentives. She further added that MAT relief will be given to those opting to continue paying surcharge and cess. MAT has been reduced to 15 per cent from 18.5 per cent for companies who continue to avail exemptions and incentives.

The markets immediately rose after the announcement, with the benchmark Sensex surging over 1,600 points and Nifty climbing above 10,900 mark, after days of choppy trading. “Relief to listed companies which have already made a public announcement of buy-back before 5th July 2019. There will be no tax on buy-back of shares in case of such companies ,” he said.

India

PM Modi condoles loss of lives due to hospital fire in Rajkot

Praying for a quick recovery of the injured. The administration is ensuring all possible assistance to those affected.”

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Narendra Modi

The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the loss of lives due to a hospital fire in Rajkot.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, “Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to a hospital fire in Rajkot. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate tragedy.

Praying for a quick recovery of the injured. The administration is ensuring all possible assistance to those affected.”

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Cities

Gujarat: Five Covid-19 patients killed as fire breaks out at Rajkot hospital

Thirty other coronavirus patients undergoing treatment at the hospital were rescued, an official said.

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rajkot hospital fire

Rajkot, Gujarat: Five patients were killed after a fire broke out in the ICU of a designated Covid-19 hospital in Gujarat’s Rajkot in the early hours of Friday. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered a probe into the incident.

Thirty other coronavirus patients undergoing treatment at the hospital were rescued, an official said. The fire is under control, however, the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

The fire broke out in the ICU of Uday Shivanand Hospital in Mavdi area, where 33 patients were admitted. Seven of the patients were admitted to the ICU, fire brigade official J B Theva said. “We rushed to the spot and rescued 30 patients after a call informing about the fire was received. Three patients died inside the ICU,” he said.

The rescued patients have been shifted to other COVID-19 hospitals, he added.

In August, eight coronavirus patients had died in a huge fire that broke out in the intensive care ward of Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad’s Navrangpura area.

PM Modi had condoled the deaths in his home state. “Saddened by the tragic hospital fire in Ahmedabad. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to CM @vijayrupanibjp Ji and Mayor @ibijalpatel Ji regarding the situation. Administration is providing all possible assistance to the affected (sic),” he had tweeted.

The Prime Minister’s office had also announced that an ex-gratia of ₹ 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the hospital fire in Ahmedabad. ₹ 50,000 each for those injured due to the hospital fire.

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Health

Oxford vaccine viable even at 60-70% efficacy: Serum Institute

The PM visit will be followed by a visit by ambassadors and High Commissioners from around 100 countries, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.

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Vaccine Covid

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate, even at the lowest efficacy of 60-70 per cent, is a viable one against the novel coronavirus, the Serum Institute of India (SII) said on Thursday.

SII has partnered with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine candidate.

“Even though the lowest efficacy results are at 60-70%, it is a viable vaccine against the virus. That said, varied age groups with different dosage forms will result in slight variations and efficacy. We must be patient and not panic,” SII said in a statement.

Explained

India trial results not in

The efficacy results of AstraZeneca were based on trials being conducted in the United Kingdom and Brazil. It does not include the trials of the same vaccine being conducted by the Serum Institute in India. The results of the Indian trials are expected to come out in December.

The statement — a couple of days before PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the company — comes amid an acknowledgment on Wednesday by AstraZeneca of a key error in the dosage received by some of the study participants of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222 (named Covishield in India).

According to partial results announced on Monday from ongoing trials in the UK and Brazil, the vaccine showed a striking difference in efficacy, depending on the amount delivered. A regimen of two full doses given a month apart was 62 per cent effective while participants who received half a dose of the vaccine in the first round and then the full dose a month later were found to be 90 per cent less likely to develop Covid-19. The average efficacy was pegged around 70 per cent.

But on Wednesday, according to reports, AstraZeneca admitted that the half dose was an error since some of the vials did not have the right vaccine concentration.

In its statement, SII said there were no concerns about the trial in India.

“The Indian trials are running smoothly with strict adherence to all the necessary processes and protocols. So far, there are no concerns. However, we are going through the data that is available and will make a further statement, if needed,” the statement said.

Phase 3 trials are underway across 17 sites in the country and data on the Indian trials should be out in a month or so, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier told The Indian Express.

While scientists and experts say a vaccine with efficacy of 60 per cent and above is good, they have, however, raised concerns over the company’s communication strategy.

When contacted, Dr Gagandeep Kang, virologist and professor of Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “You need to be absolutely straight upfront and transparent. We have learnt that the low dose in the Oxford study with higher efficacy was an accident. To first say that low dose gives 90 per cent efficacy and later say that the dose was an error creates doubt about the process that is unnecessary.”

Saying she “trusted the researchers at Oxford”, Kang said, “Usually when the researchers at Oxford work on vaccines, they go all the way through Phase 1 and sometimes through Phase 2 of the trial on their own. I understand that in this case, they were advised to not do everything on their own and as early as possible link up with a large vaccine company. Oxford started to work with AstraZeneca and this error in dosing may have happened in that switch from doing early phase studies themselves and the later trials with AstraZeneca. This would need to be informed to the regulators and in the trial registry.”

However, none of this is any reason to dismiss the vaccine, she said. “This is not a vaccine that should be put in the dustbin just because of 60 per cent efficacy. It is a good vaccine that has exceeded the WHO and FDA benchmarks. There is a lot more data to come and we will learn more when it does,” she said.

Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said he was intrigued by the results. “As a scientist, I am now thinking what sort of response would one get if the first dose was even smaller – half of what they give — whether by design or accident, I don’t care. Would one get an equal or better response then?” Dr Jameel told.

Calling the results a “blessing in disguise”, he said, “The advantage is that if half or quarter dose gives a better response, then there would be twice as many vaccine doses to vaccinate people. That is a big plus. Many scientific discoveries have happened serendipitously,” he said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Serum Institute of India “to understand the process of vaccine production and distribution”. Officials said the PM would reach around 1 pm and depart around 2.30 pm.

The PM visit will be followed by a visit by ambassadors and High Commissioners from around 100 countries, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.

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