Thiruvananthapuram: About 22,000 people, who have returned from Saudi Arabia, have registered with the state government seeking assistance for starting self-employment programmes, an official said.
These people, who have come back after the Saudi government applied stricter labour laws called the "Nitaqat", have registered with the Norka (Non-resident Keralites affairs) department that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora and also those who have returned from abroad.
Last year when there was a talk about a mass exodus from Saudi Arabia on account of the "Nitaqat" law which made it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers, the state government announced it would come out with a rehabilitation scheme for such people to start their own business. It also promised to provide subsidy in both capital and interest on short- and long-term loans.
"We had opened an online registration of all those who wished to avail the financial assistance scheme of the government that was made available with the help of Canara Bank and Union Bank of India. Till now we have received 22,000 applications," Norka CEO P. Sudeep told IANS.
According to the government policy, the maximum cap on loans would be Rs.2 million and a 10 percent subsidy would be offered to all those who start an enterprise in agriculture, manufacturing, trading or the service sector.
The Norka department has by now processed these applications and directed all such applicants to attend a short-term training programme that was held at the district headquarters to make them familiarise on how to run a successful business or self employment programmes.
"To each of those who had registered with us we opened a new site and handed over them a password to access the site. Till yesterday 2,900 applicants have re-registered with us. Now we have asked the remaining people that if they are interested to re-register they can walk into any of the Akshaya Centres and get their re-registration done," said Sudeep.
"We now plan to start giving the loans from December 1st and for that we along with the representatives of the banks would sit together with the applicant and give them instant loans. We will hold special adalats in all the 14 districts of the state and hand over these loans," he added.