GDP collapses 23.9% in Q1, worst among big economies

NEW DELHI: India’s economy posted its steepest contraction on record in the April-June quarter of the current fiscal year as the strict lockdowns imposed to ward off the spread of the deadly coronavirus infection stalled economic activity, shut out consumption and investment and led to job and income losses.
Asia’s third largest economy was already faltering when the pandemic struck. In April-June, it suffered a contraction for the first time since India began maintaining quarterly records in 1996.
Data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Monday showed GDP in the April-June quarter of 2020-21 slumped 23.9% compared with growth of 3.1% in the previous (January-March) quarter. Among major economies, India’s contraction was the sharpest. China, after posting a contraction in the January-March quarter has recovered with 3.2% growth in the April-June quarter. Globally, India is close to UK’s contraction of 20.4% in the second quarter.

Agriculture was the only bright spot. The sector, which has benefited from a robust monsoon, rose an annual 3.4% in the June quarter compared with a growth of 3% in the June quarter of 2019-20.
On a quarterly basis, recession deepened in the manufacturing sector as it posted four consecutive quarters of contraction while the construction sector declined for the third quarter in a row. Economists define recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The manufacturing sector, which has been in the grip of a sharp slowdown, fell 39.3% in the June quarter while construction slumped 50.3% during the three-month period. Trade, hotels, transport and communications sector posted the second highest contraction, declining 47% in the June quarter.
The services sector, which accounts for nearly 60% of the economy, slumped 20.6% in the June quarter, compared to a 4.4% growth in the previous. Services such as hotels, restaurants, hospitality and airlines, have borne the maximum brunt of the.
Private consumption, a key driver of the economy witnessed a sharp decline of 24.5% in the first quarter from 8.5% increase in the year ago period. However, government consumption saw a 20.2% increase in the June quarter compared with the 9.5% growth in the same quarter of the previous year. This highlights the role of government spending in supporting the economy.
According to a Care Ratings analysis, investment growth witnessed a sharp decrease of 47.9% in the June quarter. As a percentage of GDP, investments (as measured by Gross Fixed Capital Formation) at 19.5% during the quarter was the lowest under the new series (2011-12).
Chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian said the contraction was expected given the lockdown that happened globally. “India is definitely experiencing a V-shaped recovery. We should expect better performance in the subsequent quarter,” Subramanian said after the release of the quarterly data.
The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have unleashed several measures to reverse the slowdown and protect the vulnerable sectors. These steps include fiscal stimulus and free food for the poor while the central bank has pumped in funds but economists say more needs to be done to revive growth and provide a fresh lifeline to sectors hit hard by the pandemic. Former finance minister P Chidambaram launched a scathing attack, saying the numbers should be a matter of “surprise and shame” for the government.
Economists said they expect pressure on growth to continue in the quarters ahead with a spike in the number of coronavirus infections.
“Consumption demand and investments which are necessary to propel the economy would continue to be tepid and is unlikely to see a noteworthy improvement during the course of the year. Government spending would have to do the heavy lifting,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings.
“Although the higher growth in the agriculture sector and consequently rural demand would support the domestic economy, it would not be sufficient to compensate for the decline in urban demand and growth. We project the country’s GDP to contract by around 6.4-6.5% in FY21,” Sabnavis said.

V-shaped recovery in some sectors: CEA Subramanian

NEW DELHI: Attributing the 23.9 per cent contraction in GDP in April-June to the coronavirus lockdown, chief cconomic adviser (CEA) K V Subramanian on Monday said the country will witness better performance in the subsequent quarters, aided by a ‘V-shaped’ recovery in various sectors.
He said indicators like rail freight traffic and electricity consumption are pointing to a recovery in economic activity.
“Given the intensity of the lockdown…higher intensity, this (growth number) is actually along expected lines. What is important is that India is experiencing a V-shaped recovery after the unlock has been announced,” he told PTI.
Citing some examples, he said railway freight traffic, which is often a good indicator of economic activity, has reached 95 per cent of the level seen in July last year and was 6 per cent higher in the first 26 days of August, compared to the same time last year.
Power consumption is just 1.9 per cent lower than last year, he said.
“E-way bills capture interstate trade, which do get affected by by local lockdowns and yet the e-way bills are at 99.8 per cent in August so far,” he said.
Talking about the eight core infrastructure sectors, he said core sector output declined by 38 per cent in April, but since then the rate of contraction has come down to 22 per cent in May, 13 per cent in June and 9.6 per cent in July.
“Overall, there is clearly a V-shaped recovery. One noteworthy point is that agriculture sector is the one sector that has grown at 3.4 per cent despite the lockdown that was in Q1…(this) is reflective of the several reform measures that the government has announced, like the APMC reforms and Essential Commodities Act etc,” he said.
This is also reflected in rural inflation now being higher than urban inflation, he added.
Hit by the COVID-19 crisis, India’s GDP shrank by the steepest ever 23.9 per cent in April-June, as against a growth of 5.2 per cent in the same quarter of the last fiscal, as per data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
“This decline is expected given the lockdown globally that happened and India is definitely experiencing a V-shaped recovery. So, we should expect better performance in the subsequent quarters,” Subramanian emphasised.
Comparing the contraction with the UK economy, the CEA said India’s lockdown was more intense than that in the UK, which witnessed 22 per cent decline in the April-June quarter.
Quoting the World Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Fund, he said it has highlighted that GDP per capita would decrease the highest since 1870.
More on Covid-19
This is once in one-and-a-half century event, which is what India is going through as well, he said.
As per the NSO data, the construction sector GVA contracted by a whopping 50.3 per cent from 5.2 per cent expansion earlier. Mining sector output declined at 23.3 per cent, as against a growth of 4.7 per cent a year ago.
Electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services segment too shrank by 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020-21, against 8.8 per cent growth a year ago.
Similarly, trade, hotel, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting declined 47 per cent in the first quarter from 3.5 per cent growth earlier.

7 states, 1 UT oppose govt’s plan for meeting GST dues

NEW DELHI: As many as seven non-BJP ruled states, including Kerala and Punjab, besides Union Territory Puducherry on Monday rejected the Centre’s suggestion of states borrowing to make up for the GST shortfall, saying the constitutional liability lies with the Union government.
At an informal meeting on Monday, six non-BJP ruled states — Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Telangana — felt that an alternative mechanism should be worked out to compensate the GST revenue shortfall.
Besides, Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Puducherry too said they will follow suit on the issue of compensation.
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said if states have to borrow, then the Centre will have to amend compensation law which says that the central government will compensate states for loss of revenue arising out of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“FMs of Punjab, Delhi, W Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Telengana and Kerala agreed to reject the Centre’s options on GST compensation. Our option: Central Govt to borrow entire compensation due regardless of acts of gods, humans or nature, to be paid back by extending the period of Cess,” Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac said.

In a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Badal demanded full clarity on the options given by the Centre and sought an urgent meeting of the GST Council on the issue.
“Punjab is prepared to cooperate in a spirit of finding a solution to this vexed problem but is unable to persuade itself to either of the options presented at this stage,” Badal said, adding that the method of calculating losses by the Centre is arbitrary, one-sided and devoid of any legal justification.
In a tweet, Isaac said the state has no choice other than to reject the options “lock, stock and barrel”.
“Enough is enough. No more surrender of states rights. GST Compensation is our constitutional right,” Isaac tweeted.

The Centre and Opposition-ruled states are at loggerheads over the financing of the Rs 2.35 lakh crore GST shortfall in the current fiscal. Of this, as per Centre’s calculation, about Rs 97,000 crore is on account of GST implementation and rest Rs 1.38 lakh crore is the impact of COVID-19 on states’ revenues.
The Centre last week gave two options to the states to borrow either from a special window facilitated by the Reserve Bank of India or from the market and has also proposed extending the compensation cess levied on luxury, demerit and sin goods beyond 2022.
“We all got it wrong regarding Centre’s proposal on GST deadlock. This itself is sad commentary on proceedings of Council. We discuss for 5 hours and then the Chair comes up with proposals which are totally disconnected with discussions and no time left for any clarification,” Isaac tweeted.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel also wrote to Sitharaman saying the Centre should not pressurise states to take loans. The money to compensate them for the loss of tax revenues should be arranged by the central government.
“While the GST compensation was to be paid bi-monthly, state government has not received Rs 2,828 crore compensation for the four months of current 2020-21 fiscal,” he wrote.
He said the constitutional obligation for making good any loss of revenues due to implementation of GST lies with the Centre.
“GST compensation cess is collected by the Centre and using that to pay for loan taken by state governments is a complex and uncertain process,” he wrote. “The Centre should arrange for the compensation from its resources or loan.”
Badal in his letter also suggested that the GST council should invite views on resolving the possible dispute under the mechanism provided in Article 279A(11) of the Constitution.
Article 279A(11) of the Constitution provides that the GST Council creates a mechanism to resolve dispute between the Centre and states, among others.
“We … take both the options with great regret as a clear breach of the solemn and constitutional assurance by the Central Government. We believe this as betrayal of the spirit of cooperative federalism that formed the backbone of GST-journey so far,” Badal said.
If projections are made till the end of compensation period, the total revenue loss may cross Rs 4,50,000 crore. This, together with interest, would require more than 4-5 years to repay the borrowings rather than 2-3 years that is being believed, he added.
Many states feel that borrowings by the states may be costlier by up to 150 basis points when compared to the borrowing by the Centre, he said. “When resources for payment have to come from a tax that is levied by the authority of the Parliament it makes no sense for States to borrow. …Any future dispute in relation to GST Compensation will have deleterious impact on the States creating situations of defaults by States.”
Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad, Telangana finance minister T Harish Rao said: “Unfortunately the Centre is trying to shy away from paying … GST compensation to states in the name of act of god and coronavirus. It is not fair on (the) Centre’s part to tell states to borrow (for GST losses). It was loud and clear that as per the GST Act, the Centre will compensate if the states’ tax revenues growth is less than 14 per cent.”

Eight core industries’ output contracts 9.6% in July

NEW DELHI: Contracting for the fifth consecutive month, the output of eight core infrastructure sectors dropped by 9.6 per cent in July due to decline mostly in production of steel, refinery products and cement.
The production of eight core sectors had expanded by 2.6 per cent in July 2019, data released by the commerce and industry ministry on Monday showed.
Barring fertiliser, all seven sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, steel, cement and electricity — recorded negative growth in July.
The output of steel, refinery products, cement, natural gas, coal, crude oil and electricity declined by 16.5 per cent, 13.9 per cent, 13.5 per cent, 10.2 per cent, 5.7 per cent, 4.9 per cent and 2.3 per cent, respectively.
On the other hand, the fertiliser output grew by 6.9 per cent during the month under review as against 1.5 per cent in July 2019.
During April-July 2020-21, the sector’s output dipped by 20.5 per cent as compared to a growth of 3.2 per cent in the same period previous year.

Scheduled int’l flight suspension till Sept 30

NEW DELHI: The suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till September 30, said Indian aviation regulator DGCA on Monday.
“However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” noted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in a circular.
Scheduled international passenger services continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements with other countries since July.
The circular said the suspension does not affect the operation of international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.

Eco may see record quarterly slump as pandemic hits

NEW DELHI: India’s economy likely suffered its largest quarterly slump on record, data is expected to show on Monday, as coronavirus-related lockdowns add to already-declining consumer demand and investment.
Economists in a Reuters poll predicted that gross domestic product in world’s fifth-largest economy will contract by 18.3% in the June quarter, compared to 3.1% growth in the previous quarter, the worst performance in at least eight years.
The same economists predict a contraction of 8.1% and 1.0% in the September and December quarters respectively, which would dash any hopes of an economic recovery this year.
India has reported over three and a half million cases of the novel coronavirus – third behind only the United States and Brazil.
Continuing restrictions on transport, educational institutions and restaurants – and weekly lockdowns in some states – have hit manufacturing, services and retail sales, while keeping millions of workers out of jobs.
Shilan Shah, India economist at Capital Economics, Singapore, said in a note on Friday the economic damage caused by pandemic-related lockdowns was much worse in India than any other country in Asia.
“Timely indicators show that the post-lockdown recovery is now stalling, underscoring the long and difficult road ahead for India’s economy,” said Shah, who is predicting a 15% contraction in June quarter.
Some private economists said the fiscal year that began in April could see a contraction of nearly 10%, the worst performance since India won independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $266 billion stimulus package in May, including credit guarantees on bank loans and free food grains to poor people, but consumer demand and manufacturing are yet to recover.
The Reserve Bank of India, which has reduced the benchmark repo rate by a total of 115 basis points since February, kept rates on hold earlier this month amid rising inflation.
Policymakers said federal and state governments are unable to increase spending, following a more than 40% fall in tax receipts in the June quarter.
However, following normal monsoon rains the farm sector, which accounts for 15% of economic output, may give hope that rural economy will be able to support millions of migrant workers, who returned to their villages from the cities when the lockdown began.

Adani Group to acquire 74% stake in Mumbai Airport

NEW DELHI: Paving the way for billionaire Gautam Adani’s group acquiring controlling interest in the Mumbai Airport from the GVK Group, the two corporates on Monday announced reaching an agreement for CSMIA under which the latter will infuse funds into Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) “to provide liquidity support”. Adani Group will also “achieve financial closure of the Navi Mumbai International Airport project at the earliest in order to commence construction.”
In a BSE filing, the Adani Enterprises Ltd Monday said: “Adani Airport Holdings Limited (AAHL), the flagship holding company of Adani Group for its airports business (and a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Limited) has entered into an agreement to acquire the debt of GVK Airport Developers Limited (GVKADL). GVK ADL is the holding company through which GVK Group holds 50.50% equity stake in MIAL, which in turns holds 74% equity stake in Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL).
According to the agreement, AAHL will acquire the debt of GVK ADL from its airport lenders.
“The GVK Group and AAHL have agreed that AAHL will offer a stand-still to GVK, in addition, to release of the guarantee given by GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited with respect to the debt acquired by it. The Adani Group will also take steps to complete the acquisition of a 23.5% equity stake from ACSA and Bidvest in MIAL for which it has obtained CCI approval.
Upon the acquisition of the debt of GVK ADL, Adani Group will take steps to obtain necessary customary and regulatory approvals, as may be required, to acquire controlling interest in MIAL. AAHL intends to infuse funds into MIAL to ensure that MIAL receives much needed liquidity and also achieves financial closure of Navi Mumbai International Airport to be able to commence construction,” the Adani Group regulatory filing said.
In a statement, the GVK Group said the other terms of the GVK-Adani agreement include: “Acquisition of debt by Adani from various GVK lenders including a Goldman Sachs led consortium and HDFC; release GVK of various obligations, securities and corporate guarantees given in respect of debt to be acquired by Adani and ability for Adani to convert the acquired debt to equity of GVK Airport Developers Ltd (GVKADL) on mutually agreed terms, subject to obtaining necessary regulatory approvals.”
“Separately, GVK has notified the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and PSP, that the transaction documents stand terminated, as it is no longer effective and implementable. The reason for this decision was a) the terms of the transaction envisaged in the transaction documents were not implementable and b) the alternative proposals discussed would not provide a resolution to the lenders by the end of August, which was a requirement of our lenders,” the GVK Group said in a statement.
The Adani Group had emerged as higher bidder for operating six AAI Airports — Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru — PPP way for 50 years. The Kerala government is opposing handing over Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani. With India’s second busiest airport, Mumbai’s CSMIA, and the upcoming Navi Mumbai also in its portfolio, Adani group emerges as the largest private airport developer in India.
GVK Group founder-chairman G V K Reddy said: “The aviation industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19, setting it back by many years and has impacted the financials of Mumbai International Airport Limited. It was therefore important, that we bring in a financially strong investor in the shortest possible time to improve the financial position of MIAL, as well as to help achieve Financial Closure of the Navi Mumbai International Airport project, which is a project of national importance. It is under these circumstances that we agreed to cooperate with Adani so as to achieve these twin objectives. Further, when the transaction is consummated, which is subject to customary approvals, we would be reducing a significant portion of liabilities to our lenders, which is of utmost importance to the group”.

Centre unlikely to cede ground on GST compensation

NEW DELHI: The government is unlikely to give in to demands for changing the compensation formula for goods and services tax (GST) despite opposition-ruled states demanding that the Centre borrow from the market and transfer funds to meet the shortfall between actual collections and the promised growth of 14%.
Top government officials told TOI that the compensation mechanism and calculations of what it should be has been “hard wired” into the law and the proposals put before the states were based on two rounds of consultation with attorney general K K Venugopal.
“It is absolutely clear that the funds must come from the cess and the 14% is calculated on a base year of 2015-16 for all states. This is the basis on which the Rs 97,000 crore figure has been arrived at while assuming 10% nominal growth,” explained a source in the government.
The finance ministry has considered possible options over the last two months since finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured states that there will be a GST Council meeting just to address the issue of compensation.
She has been part of meetings that might usually involve only officials at a stage where options are being studied before being put before the minister, sources told TOI. It was felt that she should provide necessary guidance in a matter that is of central importance to the finances of the Centre and states.
Opposition-ruled states are demanding that the Centre take over the burden and are expected to lodge their protest over the two options shared by the finance ministry on Saturday.
But the Centre arrived at the view that if it were to borrow from the market, the result would be higher rates all around as bond yields would harden, a position that was clearly articulated in the finance ministry’s communications to states on Saturday. If the interest rates of government securities were to go up, the cost of any borrowings undertaken by states would also rise. Further, the borrowing costs for the private sector will also go up.
Besides, officials at the Centre argued, by opening a special window to enable states to borrow up to Rs 97,000 crore, the Centre was offering a good rate in addition to cushioning the impact on the market.
The formula the Centre worked out was very precise,, the sources said. The compensation was worked out at a 10% nominal growth (4% inflation). The loss caused by this estimate being drastically lowered works out to Rs 97,000 crore.
The shortfall over and above this is the impact of the Covid-91 situation of force majeure or as Sitharaman called it “an act of god”. Therefore, the terms for financing this part of the Rs 2.35 lakh crore will be different, officials said.
It is also pointed out that the Centre itself is having to bear a higher spending and consequently deficit than was earlier estimated. In the event, it would not be financially sound for the Centre, and in terms of impact, even the states.

Asean agrees to review trade pact with India

NEW DELHI: After months of inaction and the government’s threat to pull out of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Asean, members of the trading block have agreed to review the trade pact amid concerns that China is using the treaty to ship goods to India, which is unable to take full advantage of the 10-year-old arrangement.
While the scope of the review will be finalised at the official level, New Delhi is keen that some of the anomalies be removed at the earliest. Chief among them is the inability of Indian exporters to get a level-playing field. An official told TOI that Indonesia had lowered duties on only 50% of the items, while close to 75% of its products were getting customs duty benefit in India. A similar problem persisted with some of the other Asean members, although those such as Indonesia are not classified as least-developed countries.
Government officials also pointed to other deficiencies. For instance, Japanese automobiles can be imported into Thailand and Indonesia at 5% duty, while Indian cars faced 35% tariff. Ditto with two-wheelers. Similarly, against 35% duty on rice for trade among Asean members, Indian rice faced a 50% levy.
Another key concern for India are the weak rules of origin meant to check the misuse of treaty benefits by countries that are not part of the agreement. The Asean trade agreement requires at least 35% value addition in one of the member countries for a product to get duty advantage in India. But the rules are seen to be lax with government officials listing Chinese set top boxes, copper and polyester among products which were allegedly misusing the CECA.
The government is also demanding better customs procedure, which will also allow Indian customs authorities to verify the details, a facility that is currently unavailable. Then a provision on exchange of data is also proposed to be provided for as part of the review. While India has data on imports through the preferential duty route, corresponding numbers on exports are inaccessible to it.
Given that the Modi government has criticised its predecessor, UPA, for rushing through with the Asean CECA, it is set to bargain hard when the talks begin. Asean members were earlier linking the review to the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation agreement, where India walked out late last year, arguing the deal was not favourable to it.

All RPG sales staff can now WFH permanently

MUMBAI: In a breakaway from traditional norms, RPG Enterprises has become the first Indian diversified conglomerate to do a permanent reset in its workplace policy around work-from-home (WFH). The $4 billion group, which has a presence in tyres, IT, health, energy, infrastructure and plantations, has framed a new policy wherein all its sales people will permanently work remotely, while office-based staff would WFH 50% of the time. For office-based staff, this can extend to 75% in special cases.
In a month, an office-based employee can work two weeks from home, and in special cases, he/she can work remotely for three weeks.
At present, office-based staff are entirely working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the group unanimously keeping all its offices shut.
The new ‘RPG Remote Working Policy’, which is effective prospectively from September 1, is location- and workplace- agnostic. It is applicable to RPG’s global operations as well, and also covers factories and plantations for those workers who don’t work on machines.
Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Enterprises, told TOI: “Our new work from home policy shatters the notion of traditional workspace and productivity and has turned it on its head. Employees who are not operating machines in our manufacturing businesses or do not have a client obligation in our technology services business, can work from ‘anywhere’ even after the pandemic is behind us. It aligns with our vision tenet of ‘touching lives’ and brand promise of ‘happiness’.”
In a note to its 30,000 employees across the world, across companies like CEAT, RPG Life Sciences, KEC International, Harrisons Malayalam, RPG Enterprises said it is imperative for the conglomerate to encourage employees to adopt new and contemporary methods of working that improve their quality of life, productivity and also optimize the group companies’ operating expenses. “Empowering employees by giving them a choice to work remotely from home or another location for a significant number of days in a month, will enhance employee efficiency and business output,” it said in the note.
S ‘Venky’ Venkatesh, president group HR, and member, group management board, RPG Enterprises, said: “We have seen that employee productivity has only increased during the past few months, and our early investments in building digital capabilities has given us the confidence to roll out this path breaking policy for perpetuity. What is noteworthy and unique is this policy is industry-agnostic and covers employees in all our group companies in all geographies around the world, including CEOs and senior leadership. We would be the first diversified conglomerate to effect such a far reaching policy as a long term option beyond the Covid-19 phase.”
The lockdown period helped the group comprehend the benefits of remote working. To operationalize WFH, it set up a task-force comprising a young team which directly presented its recommendations to the group management board. The board then set up a sub-committee to take it forward and frame a policy.
Venkatesh said the policy looks at remote working as a long-term and on-going new normal, even in the post-Covid world. “Today, due to Covid, all our offices are anyway 100% closed, but our factories/project sites/plantations are working. We have categorized employees into four groups by the nature of their work and basis that it would be decided who can work remotely and to what extent. A security officer, for instance, will need to be present at the office premises. An employee at the shop floor will need to be present at the factory. In case of Zensar Technologies, the business model is such that everybody can work from home. Exceptions in IT will be those who need to work from SEZ/client locations or mandated by contractual obligations with clients to work from company locations,” said Venkatesh.
Until now, the group’s policy allowed only office-based employees to work from anywhere up to a few days in a month. The new policy has expanded the scope across our manufacturing and plantations locations.
The new policy will help the group rationalise its office real estate space and enable hot desking.
The move could trigger a similar thinking among other large conglomerates and groups. In India, CavinKare shut down its corporate office and moved to a WFH platform in June. Globally, Twitter allowed employees to choose to WFH as long as they wished to, while Facebook and Google have extended the flexibility to their employees to work remotely.