Thiruvananthapuram: There are no shortcuts before the government in the matter of rehabilitation of expatriate Keralaties returning home. If there is no change in the course, the social and financial sector are sure to suffer its impact.
Demand is getting stronger to raise the government share in expat welfare schemes and to prepare financial and labour rehabilitation package for expats at all levels. 95 percent of the returning expats do not have any other means of livelihood. Though there are 22 lakh Malayalis abroad, only 4.25 lakh are members in State Pravasi Welfare Board. Its pension which was initially Rs. 500 has now reached Rs. 2000. The government share is only Rs. 10 crore.
The expats’ subscription and government’s dividend are the only source of income of the board. The government has not yet dared to demand any share from the Central government which benefits the most from diaspora's remittance.
Kerala Pravasi Sangham General Secretary KV Abdul Khader MLA told ‘Madhyamam’ that identifying new sources for welfare fund is the only solution.
“The idea of a pravasi lottery should be given a thought. A token amount of at least Rs. 50 should be collected from air passengers to be deposited in the welfare fund,” the MLA said.
For years, there has been a demand to update the welfare schemes. Several recommendations contained in 10 reports submitted by Pravasi Welfare cCmmittee of the legislative assembly are yet to be put into effect.
Relaxation is also called for limits in the norms of ‘Santhwanam’, a financial relief aid scheme for returning expats to utilize funds for their needs including treatment.
The aid limit of NDPREM, a rehabilitation scheme meant for the returning expats to start enterprises individually or collectively, also is to be relaxed.
It is learnt that only 500 people out of 25,000 who returned to the state due to Nitaqat, could benefit from the government schemes.
It will be another question as to how many expats would be able to benefit from the schemes without t political influence.