Dubai: Expats from Kerala returning home stand to benefit from more aid from the South Indian state’s government, the welfare department for Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) has announced.
Norka-Roots, a public sector undertaking under Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (Norka), has been allotted an additional fund of Rs100 million (Dh5.25 million) for its welfare project Santhwanam, said Harikrishnan Namboothiri, CEO of Norka Roots.
The government has also increased the financial support for NRK returnees to start a new life back home by launching their own modest businesses.
The limit to get capital subsidy for NRK returnees’ ventures has been increased by Rs1 million (Dh52,465) under the rehabilitation scheme titled Norka Department Project for Returned Emigrants (NDPREM), said Namboothiri.
The announcements from the government come ahead of its plans to host first GCC summit of Loka Kerala Sabha, a global platform for more than 3.5 million NRKs across the world, in Dubai in February.
The Santhwanam scheme offers financial assistance to NRKs who have returned home in distress or their dependent family members.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone from Kerala on Friday, Namboothiri said Norka has already disbursed the existing budget allocation of Rs15 crores (Dh7.86 million) under this scheme to 2,452 applicants during the current financial year.
“With this additional aid of Rs100 million, our current year target is to give assistance to 3,750 applicants with the total of Rs250 million (Dh13 million),” he said.
Through the scheme, financial assistance is provided to NRK returnees having a minimum period of service of two years abroad or outside the State.
Aid is provided in four categories such as: financial assistance to meet the medical treatment expenses of the NRK or his dependent family members; death assistance to family members of the NRK; marriage expenses of daughter of the NRK returnee; and to buy artificial limbs, crutches, wheelchair or other aids to overcome the physical disability.
The period after the return or death of NRK should not exceed the period of his working in the foreign country or ten years whichever is shorter.
The applicant having an annual family income below Rs. 100,000 (Dh5,247) is eligible for assistance. The applicants should not be employed at the time of applying and availing of assistance, the conditions listed on Norka website said.
Aid for entrepreneurs
The increase in the limit of financial assistance for entrepreneurial ventures under the NDPREM scheme will benefit many NRK returnees wishing to start their own businesses with loans from banks, said Namboothiri.
Norka Roots was releasing a capital subsidy of 15 per cent of the project, the total cost of which should be a maximum of Rs2 million (Dh104,931); and an interest subsidy of three per cent for the first four years, to those beneficiaries who are regular in payment.
“This limit of up to Rs2 million has now been increased to Rs3 million. This will benefit many,” said Namboothiri.
In the 2018-2019 financial year, he said, almost Rs120 million has been disbursed under the scheme, supporting 676 NRK returnees in starting their own businesses.
The remaining amount of the total budget of Rs150 million for the scheme will be disbursed to eligible applicants till March 2019.
“Considering the current scenario of many NRKs returning home, we strongly feel that these schemes are very important for them,” said Namboothiri.
Dubai summit to announce more NRK welfare schemes
The Chief Minister of the South Indian state of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan is expected to announce more welfare programmes for Non Resident Keralites (NRKs) at a two-day summit in Dubai in February.
The Loka Kerala Sabha (LKS), a global platform for more than 3.5 million NRKs across the world, has scheduled its first GCC summit in Dubai on February 15 and 16.
The four new projects for NRKs that will be announced by Vijayan are likely to include the Pravasi Dividend Scheme, a lifelong monthly dividend-cum-pension scheme based on a one-time deposit, according to PT Kunju Mohammed, chairman of the Kerala Pravasi Welfare Board.
Mohammad was in Dubai earlier this week, to make arrangements for the LKS summit, along with K. Varadarajan, resident vice-chairman and Harikrishnan Namboothiri, CEO, of Norka Roots, a public sector undertaking under Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (Norka).
The team, which held preparatory meetings with LKS members in Dubai, said the summit will also address various concerns of NRKs in the region, including more than one million Malayali expats in the UAE.