Mint Lite | What cancelling the Olympics could cost Japan, India's savings rate slides and other news to know4 min read . Updated: 04 Jun 2020, 09:37 PM IST
A daily wrap of news and views, opinions and talking points, to get you started on your day
China will ease its ban on foreign airlines from June 8 and lessen quarantine requirements for official and business travelers, while Japan debated scaling back next year’s Summer Olympics. To catch up on the rest of the news in five minutes, here's Mint Lite
Elephants suffer traps set for boar
It’s World Environment Day today, June 5, and unfortunately, the story that’s making headlines and inspiring art on social media is the death of a pregnant elephant who was fed a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers in Kerala on 27 May. On Thursday, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the Centre would investigate the incident. Similar cases have been reported in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the past. Fruit filled with fireworks is usually placed to snare small animals or by farmers to protect crop from wild boar. Electric fences, poisons, crackers and other traps are often laid to ward off crop-raiding wildlife. Boar populations have been rising across the country. In 2018, Kerala declared them ‘vermin’ and in February, the government said it would soon allow farmers to shoot them with licensed weapons. Telangana’s farmers are lobbying for a similar order. Three years ago, the TN forest department culled wild boar ravaging fields in parts of the state. One study in Punjab found that boar damaged about 15-20% of the crop. Farmers, scientists and governments need to work together to find sustainable techniques to minimize crop damage by wild boars to protect crops as well as keep animals safe.
The cost of the Olympics
It may be necessary to a stage a “simplified Olympics" next year due to the impact of coronavirus, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had earlier dismissed this option. The Summer Olympics is the most watched mega sports event in the world as well as the costliest, and often makes or breaks political careers. There’s no clear figure on what a cancellation would cost Japan, but in end-2019, organizers estimated the total cost of the Games to be $12.6 billion. Scaling down would affect businesses such as Toyota and Panasonic, which have poured money into sponsorships. Also in peril is the billions poured into new sporting venues, and tourism revenue. In 2018, the tourism ministry estimated around 600,000 foreign spectators would come for the games. Economists at research firm Nomura predict a 0.7% GDP contraction for 2020 due to covid-19, but warn it could touch 1.5% if the games are cancelled.
India’s saving rate and lockdown
India’s consumers may not drive economic growth through spending at the same rate as they did before the lockdown, but their savings could help fund an increase in government borrowings, going by a report from HSBC. Rising savings during the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 will also help curtail India’s current account deficit as the need to raise capital abroad diminishes, Bloomberg reports citing the report. Before the pandemic, India’s gross savings rate had dipped to its lowest in a decade at 30.1% in 2019, down from 37.8% in 2008 (see chart). Savings took a hit as companies, government and consumers splurged. HSBC suggests that savings may rise due to covid-19 as households in debt or facing an uncertain job market stop spending on non-essentials. Until now, consumption, which accounts for 60% of the economy, has spurred India’s growth during previous stress periods. It’s unlikely to do so now.
Germany’s green stimulus
Germany has unveiled a €130 billion economic stimulus package designed to boost recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Measures included a reduction in VAT until the end of the year, payments for every child, the launch of a €50 billion fund to tackle climate change and global warming and finance new innovation and technology. Financial incentives to buy electric vehicles have been doubled to €6,000. It includes a €25 billion loan support programme for small firms whose sales have dropped 60%, and it’s expected to benefit bars, restaurants, and hospitality businesses. Most countries have announced emergency financial support to keep economies from sliding into recession, but Germany’s package is one of the few with a strong focus on greening the economy, boosting spending and easing the squeeze on small businesses as well as families.
Candles out as Hong Kong passes new law
Hong Kong’S Legislative Council on Thursday passed a controversial law to prevent disrespect to China’s national anthem. The bill has sparked physical confrontations between rival lawmakers for the past few weeks as well as led to street protests despite the restrictions on gathering to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Pro-democracy lawmakers and activists had opposed the law as part of a broader pushback against efforts by China to curb freedoms in the semi-autonomous city and curtail a year of protests. The law will go into effect in the city on 12 June. The passage of the bill came on the 4 June anniversary of China’s 1989 crackdown on activists in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. An annual candlelight vigil has been held in the city’s Victoria Park for three decades to mark the crackdown and draws tens of thousands of people. This year, for the first time, police banned the gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran.
Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb