Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala budget for the 2018-19 fiscal saw the largest ever allocation of Rs 80 crore being set aside for various initiatives for the state’s diaspora.
State Finance Minister Thomas Issac while presenting his third budget in the Kerala Assembly on Friday said the allocation of Rs 80 crore for various projects and programmes for the Kerala diaspora is the largest ever such allocation.
“The various fresh allocations for the diaspora include Rs 19 crore for the conduct of the Global Kerala Festival and the second edition of the Loka Kerala Sabha, which has been the outcome of the recent first Loka Kerala Sabha (a meeting held last month here which saw numerous Keralaites settled abroad getting together here to chalk out plans and programmes to see that the diaspora participates in the development of the state),” said Issac.
A sum of Rs 16 crore has been set aside for the benefit of the diaspora that earns less than Rs one lakh annually to meet their urgent needs.
“A new job portal that will provide information of new job opportunities in the Middle East will be set up, for which Rs 8 crore has been earmarked. Likewise Rs 7 crore will be used to set up a real-time data base of the Kerala diaspora,” said Issac.
“Rs 17 crore has been set aside for setting up a business facilitation centre which will help the returning diaspora set up their own ventures,” said Issac.
He pointed out that all arrangements have been put in place for the launch of “chitties” or chit funds for the diaspora.
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“This will be launched by Kerala State Financial Enterprise and will be available online. Those who take part in the chit funds will get an insurance cover besides a pension scheme with conditions,” added Issac.
The Kerala diaspora is around 2.5 million, with close to 90 per cent in the various Middle East countries.
According to latest figures from the State Level Bankers Committee, the total non-resident Keralite deposit in Kerala banks stands at Rs 1,54,252 crore.
Remittances from migrants have been instrumental in sustaining Kerala’s economy, constituting 36.3 per cent of the state’s net domestic product. It is now widely accepted that migration has played a significant role in poverty alleviation and in raising the living standards of about one third of Malayali households.