Reserve Bank of India – Rs.50,000 crore for health sector lending

Reserve Bank of India to maintain Covid loan book for supporting hospitals, vaccine manufacturers

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Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India Photo The Hindu
Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India Photo The Hindu

On 5 May 2021, the Reserve Bank of India governor, Shaktikanta Das announced a Rs.50,000 crore (US$ 6.77 billion) lending program to help ramp up the health infrastructure as India is facing a rampant second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Das said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would inject liquidity worth Rs.50,000 crore, which will be available for banks to lend to vaccine manufacturers, hospitals, other medical facilities, and coronavirus patients. The banks will have to maintain a ‘Covid loan book’ and get funds at the current repo rate of 4% for a term of three years. The program will run till 31 March 2022.

Reserve Bank of India on restructuring the terms of borrowings

The RBI has decided to offer individual borrowers and small businesses with loan exposure of up to Rs.25 crore another window to restructure the terms of their borrowings. This second chance will be available to those who did not take up the RBI’s loan restructuring offer announced last year in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, borrowers who did take up the offer last year may extend the moratorium period for another two years.

Das downplayed the economic impact of the second wave of the pandemic in India. He said the disruption in the manufacturing sector had been ‘minimal’ and consumer demand unaffected. He did add that the global economic outlook was “highly uncertain and clouded with downside risks.” According to him, the weather department’s normal monsoon forecast would help sustain rural demand and likely to have a “soothing effect” on food prices.

The second wave of Covid-19 in India

The curve of the active Covid-19 cases in India started to accelerate upward on 9 February 2021 when the number of daily new cases reached a low of 8,947 across the country (www.worldometer.com). The curve accelerated upward from then in March and then more steeply in the first four days of April 2021. 

On 5 May 2021, the country recorded 3,982 Covid-19 related deaths, which is the highest daily toll so far. The new Covid cases added on 5 May 2021 were 4,12,618. On 5 May, the new recoveries numbered 3,30,676 cases.

The fatalities officially attributed to Covid-19 in India since January 2020 are now at 230,151. With the addition of 4,12,618 infection cases in a single day, the total number of persons infected by Covid-19 in the past 16 months rose to 20,665,148. A total of 3,571,625 active patients of Covid-19 still await an outcome – with the recovery rate at 98.68% and the fatality rate now reaching 1.32%

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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