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Snacks industry expects Rs 35,000 crore revenue loss in FY21 due to COVID-19.

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The country’s snacks and sweets industry would suffer an estimated revenue loss of Rs 35,000 crore in the current financial year due to the corona virus pandemic, an industry official said on Monday.

Sweets and namkeen (snacks) manufacturers have reduced the production capacity due to the shortage of laborers in the midst of a slowdown and health concerns, experts said.

“In view of the ill effects of COVID-19 on the market, we estimate that the total turnover of sweets and namkeen products in the country may drop to Rs 65,000 crore during the ongoing financial year,” the director of Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers, Feroze H Naqvi, told PTI.

“The business came to a standstill due to corona virus-induced-lockdown across the country. This has ruined a large stock of sweets in manufacturing units and shops, which has caused huge losses to manufacturers and vendors,” he said.

He said that the sale of sweets and namkeen products has gained some momentum since June after the lockdown was eased. But the indications are not very encouraging as the economic crisis arising out of COVID-19 spread has affected the purchasing power of people.

The number of units manufacturing sweets and namkeens in organised and unorganized sectors is estimated at over 2 lakhs.

Most of these units have reduced their production capacity due to the current market conditions, Naqvi said.

“Thousands of migrant laborers working in sweet and namkeen factories returned to their villages due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This has also slowed down the pace in these factories.”

“The sweet and namkeen industry now has little expectations from the festival of Deepawali as everyone knows this time the festival is not going to be the same,” he said.

Indore is the country’s leading center for namkeen production with hundreds of small-scale units.

Anurag Bothra, secretary of the Namkeen-Sweet Producer Association of Indore said that local namkeen producers suffered an estimated business loss of over Rs 150 crore during March, April and May due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As per the orders of the administration in Indore, the entry of customers in retail shops of snacks and namkeen was prohibited during the lockdown.

“However, after lockdown was eased, many namkeen vendors started home-delivery of these snack products for customers through online booking. But the business is not the same as it used to be before the COVID-19 outbreak,” he added.

He said that in 2019-20, the turnover of the sweet and namkeen industry was around Rs 1,00,000 crore. This includes a turnover of Rs 60,000 crore of sweets. Naqvi said that the COVID-19 crisis has severely affected the business of sweets.

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Pakistan following threats to split OIC,Saudi Arabia ends loan and associated oil supply.

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Saudi Arabia has ended a loan and associated oil supply to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s criticism that Riyadh-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is not doing enough on the Kashmir issue, signalling further deterioration in relations between the two allies. Pakistan Foreign Minister had even threatened to split OIC if the group fails to convene a stand-alone session on Kashmir.

Pakistan had to repay a Saudi loan of $1 billion after Pakistan persisted that it should lead OIC on the Kashmir issue. The loan was part of a $6.2 billion package announced by Saudi Arabia in November 2018, which included a total of $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion. Those deals were then signed when Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman made a visit to Pakistan in February last year.

But Saudi Arabia focusing on further expanding partnership with India has not shown any willingness to convene a stand-alone meet on Kashmir.

Last week Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, asked the OIC to stop dilly-dallying on convening a meeting of the group’s Council of Foreign Ministers on Kashmir.

Qureshi had told local media: “I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”

In response to a reporter’s query, Qureshi also said that Pakistan could not wait any further and threatened that if the OIC fails to summon the CFM meeting, Pakistan would be ready to go for a session outside OIC.

The minister recalled that Pakistan skipped the Kuala Lumpur summit in December on Saudi Arabia’s request and “now Pakistani Muslims are demanding Riyadh to show leadership on the issue”.

Pakistan’s stance is backed by Turkey which wants to challenge Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the Islamic world. Riyadh backs New Delhi’s stand that Kashmir is its domestic matter. The UAE, Oman, and some North African and West Asian nations are among the other Muslim-majority nations backing India on this. India also has tacit support from Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim nation. Besides Central Asian states have also backed India.

In May, Maldives had initiated a move to oppose Pakistan’s rant against India at the OIC meet. Saudi Arabia and the UAE (once traditional allies of Pakistan) had backed the stand taken by Maldives, a sign of their expanding ties with New Delhi. Oman, India’s oldest strategic partner in the Gulf region, is believed to have stated at the meet that the discourse is part of India’s internal affairs, according to sources.

A number of other countries from the OIC had not responded to Pakistan’s initiative led by its permanent representative (PR) at the UN. Interestingly, UAE’s decision to back India had drawn a backlash from Pakistan-based social media. The UAE had chaired the virtual meeting of the PRs on May 19.

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