Kerala to launch chit fund for diaspora to finance highways

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government aims to raise Rs 10,000 crore from non-resident Keralites (NRK) by launching a chit fund scheme ‘Pravasi chitti’ to finance highways extending to nearly 1,900 km, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Thursday.

The government will also hold a meet in January to address the problems faced by the diaspora given the slowdown in the global economy and to rope in their support for key initiatives of the state government.

The ‘Pravasi chitti’ (as chit funds are called in Kerala) scheme would be managed by the Kerala State Financial Services Enterprises (KSFE), a wholly-owned non-banking company of the state government.

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In the scheme, NRKs can make their monthly remittance which will be invested automatically in the NRI bonds of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) in the name of KSFE.

As these investments have the guarantee of the government and security of the KSFE, there will be no additional risk for the investor, said Vijayan, adding that their target is to get it subscribed at least by one lakh NRKs in the first year.

“We are adopting a two-pronged strategy to empower the returnees through financial support for their ventures here and also to raise funds from the NRKs for developing two highways — 1,267 km-long hill highway and 630 km-long coastal highway by generating Rs 10,000 crore through NRK bonds,” he said.

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Vijayan said the state government is also hosting a first-of-its-kind Loka Kerala Sabha — a high-level summit of all MPs, legislators from the state and representatives of over 200 registered Keralite associations spread across the globe — to look at the issues of the diaspora.

The two-day meet, to be held here from January 12, will be organised by NORKA-ROOTS, the nodal agency of the government under its Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department.

“The meet assumes significance in the wake of large scale reverse migration of NRKs following a general slowdown in the global economy and tightening labour laws and rules in the Gulf Corporation Council countries,” said K. Varadarajan, Executive Vice Chairman of NORKA ROOTS.