The Minister also announced a ‘Pravasi Dividend Pension Scheme’
From Our Correspondent
Around RO8.1 million ( Rs 150 crore ) has been set aside for the to benefit the non-resident Keralaites in the Kerala Budget 2019-20.
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The state budget was unveiled on Thursday. Presenting the budget in the Assembly Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that RO1.3 m (Rs 25 crore) has been set aside for the Santhwanam Scheme wherein the returned diaspora member who earn less than a lakh annually will be given assistance in case of emergencies.
“RO800,000 (Rs 15 crore) has been set aside to provide for interest and capital subsidies to be given to those returned diaspora members who begin independent ventures. RO 200,000 ( Rs 5 crore ) has been set aside to meet the expenses of various diaspora festivals to be held outside India,” said Isaac in his speech.
The Minister also announced a ‘Pravasi Dividend Pension Scheme’ that will provide a regular monthly pension of RO 1.5 (Rs 2,000) to all Non-Resident Keralites (NRK) on a onetime payment of RO2,700 (Rs 5 lakh).
The monthly pension payment will begin after five years of joining the scheme and those who wish to avail a higher pension could pay in multiples of Rs 5 lakhs. Issac also has set aside RO 800,000 Rs 15 crore for rehabilitation programmes of returned diaspora and another RO480,000 (Rs 9 crore) for the Non Resident Keralite Welfare Fund.
Interestingly, the biggest allocation of RO4.3 million ( Rs 81 crore) has been set aside for the various programmes of the Loka Kerala Sabha (LKS) .
“Setting aside such a huge amount for LKS is unfair. There is already criticism that the last LKS was a waste of money. It’s didn’t look into burning issues faced by an ordinary migrant worker. Like Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, LKS also turned out be a networking event for businessmen,” Mini Mohan, a migrant Rights activist, said.
The LKS was formed in 2018 by the Pinarayi Vijayan government when 351 members, including 141 legislators, parliament members from the state and some 130 selected representatives of Kerala-based organisations from within and outside the country, got under one roof to discuss the issues of the Kerala diaspora.
According to a study there are 3 million migrants from Kerala across the world whose estimated total annual remittances to the state have been found to be Rs 85,092 crore. Of these close to 90 per cent are in various Middle East countries. It has also been estimated that there are around one million NRK who have returned to the state.