MRUCI elects chairman, VC

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NEW DELHI: Shashi Sinha , CEO - India, IPG Mediabrands , and Shailesh Gupta, director, Jagran Prakashan, have been elected as Media Research Users Council India’s ( MRUCI ’s) chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.The announcement was made at the MRUCI’s board meeting, which was held shortly after its annual general meeting. Sinha takes over the mantle from Pratap Pawar, chairman, Sakal Media Group , who served as MRUCI’s chairman for two consecutive terms — from 2019-20 and 2020-21.“We faced some challenging times due to the global pandemic, but I am glad we are soon returning to normalcy,” said Pawar.

COVID-19: Trade group calls for eased curbs

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COVID-19: Trade group calls for eased curbs

By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter

The General Chamber of Commerce (GCC, 全國商總) yesterday urged the government to ease social distancing rules that stifle business at hotels, restaurants and commission-dependent agents, and allow KTV parlors, video arcades, pubs and other entertainment facilities to reopen.

GCC chairman Paul Hsu (許舒博) made the plea on behalf of what he called “subsidy-less orphans,” referring to sectors and independent workers who do not qualify for COVID-19 subsidies, despite facing loss of income since a domestic outbreak began in May.

“Taiwan’s GDP is forecast to reach 5.88 percent this year, but a record 58,731 workers are on unpaid leave, indicating uneven economic growth,” Hsu told a news conference.

General Chamber of Commerce chairman Paul Hsu poses for a photograph at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA

The government could tackle the imbalance by easing COVID-19 curbs now that the number of local infections has dwindled to the single digits, Hsu said.

“Taiwan has probably the strictest social distancing requirements in the world, weighing on the service sector,” Hsu said.

KTV parlors, video arcades, pubs and other entertainment venues remain closed, but indoor playgrounds are allowed to open, he said.

Restaurants, hotels and retailers saw business improving by only 10 to 20 percent after the government in late July lowered a COVID-19 alert from level 3 to level 2, which is insufficient to make up for lost business, he said.

Hsu urged authorities to extend wage subsidy for hard-hit hotels by at least three more months after they expired in July.

About 20 to 35 percent of eateries and retailers continue to suspend operations because capacity and distancing rules make it impossible for them to operate profitably, he said.

Some bakeries and gift shops are considering exiting the market for good in light of heavy rent burdens amid sluggish sales, he said.

In the meantime, business for insurance agents and housing brokers slumped 40 percent in May and recovered only by 20 percent over the past two months, and many have difficulty making ends meet, Hsu said.

Seventeen insurance companies introduced unpaid leave programs and the Financial Supervisory Commission has so far failed to lend a helping hand, he said.

Against this backdrop, the government is asking companies to raise the minimum wage for employees by 5 percent from NT$24,000 to NT$25,000 per month next year, Hsu said, adding that employers would have to pay higher health insurance and retirement compensations.

“All our members protested against the [wage increase] proposal,” he said, adding that the plan is rubbing salt into the wound of the services sector.

Chairperson’s cabin sealed

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Kochi: Thrikkakara municipality secretary sealed the cabin of chairperson Ajitha Thankappan, following the directive of vigilance officials in the wake of seizure of CCTV footage during the raid conducted on Friday. Vigilance has been conducting a probe into the allegations that Thankappan gifted money to a few councillors on the occasion of Onam.The secretary pasted the notice on the door of the cabin preventing anybody from entering the room, where the monitor, CPU and hard disc of the CCTVs in the municipal office are kept. The notice has been issued under Section 228 of the Kerala Municipality Act which says the secretary shall exercise supervision and control of the work of all officers and staff. It says the prohibition to enter the chamber is to safekeep the CPU, monitor and hard disc of CCTVs which are evidences (in cases). The footage allegedly contains visuals of councillors leaving the chamber carrying money. The opposition LDF had approached the vigilance saying that there are chances of the ruling UDF destroying the visuals. tnn