His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, received Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his accompanying delegation, and discussed sustaining the longstanding bonds between the UAE and India, in general, and Dubai and Kerala in particular. During the meeting, the UAE Vice-President received an official invitation from the Indian top official to visit Kerala. Kerala is home to over 35 million people who "all hold Shaikh Mohammad and the UAE leadership in high esteem," Pinarayi said. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The flood-ravaged south Indian state of Kerala will issue bonds to raise money from expatriates to facilitate rebuilding projects, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced in Dubai on Friday.

Terming it the ‘Diaspora Bonds for Rebuilding Kerala’, Vijayan said the government will finalise the procedures to issue the bonds soon.

“The Reserve Bank of India is expected to give the approval shortly,” he said.

He said this will help expatriate Keralites to make safe investments in the state and be a part of the process of building a new Kerala.

Vijayan was delivering the inaugural address at the first Loka Kerala Sabha (World Kerala Assembly) Middle East Conference at the Etisalat Academy in Dubai on Friday.

Thanking the Malayali expats who contributed in cash and kind for the flood relief efforts and for rebuilding Kerala projects, he urged them to continue to support the government in its endeavours to rebuild the state.

He said an NRI Investment company will be formed as a parent entity to explore and facilitate investment from expatriates in various sectors such as infrastructure development, tourism, and manufacturing among others.

“Small investment from our expat brothers can together become the big investment for such projects which will be under the supervision of and with the guarantee from the government.”

He said the state government is also studying the feasibility of establishing an NRI bank to facilitate their investment.

Vijayan said the possibility of forming an NRI construction company with investment from expats is also being looked into for constructing roads, public buildings, old age homes and houses.

Utilising the investment of Non Resident Keralites for Kerala’s development will also help strengthen their bond with their roots, the chief minister told the audience comprising LKS members and invitees from across the world.

“We are not just rebuilding Kerala within the four borders of Kerala. Going beyond, we want to collaborate with Kerala beyond its borders – the “Universal Kerala” formed by Malayalis working hard across the globe. Apart from those living in the state, we need to make sure there is meaningful participation from those outside the state also. Our aim is the common good of the Universal Kerala.”

He said the government will take measures to implement the recommendations of the standing committees of the LKS after the deliberations in Dubai.

An Investment Business Facilitation Centre that has been set up recently will present business opportunities with priorities to NRKs, he pointed out.

“We will make Kerala an investment-friendly state. This centre will provide all the help for ensuring ease of doing business,” he assured.

Pinarayi Vijayan delivering the inaugural address at the first Loka Kerala Sabha (World Kerala Assembly) Middle East Conference at the Etisalat Academy in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Vijayan said the government is also assuring NRK investors of single-window system for building permits and paperless transactions.

Other promises made by the chief minister included an installment plan for purchase of land, and a land leasing policy with reduced interest rates.

Also in attendance were Kerala legislative assembly speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan and Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.

Help for Kerala women going abroad

Kerala will establish three initiatives to prevent the exploitation of Malayali women going abroad, Vijayan announced in Dubai on Friday.

A women’s cell in the Norka Roots department for Non-Resident Keralites, migration facilitation centres at airports and pre-embarkation orientation centres in passport offices will be established to put an end to the exploitation of Kerala women who go abroad, Vijayan said.

“The NRI women’s cell will handle the issues related Malayali women employed in foreign countries,” he said, addressing the first Loka Kerala Sabha (World Malayali Assembly) Middle East Conference at the Etisalat Academy in Dubai.

Various issues being faced by expat women have already been brought to the notice of the standing committees of the LKS.

He said the government has already established grievance redressal cell in all of the 14 districts. “These cells are headed by the district collectors. We will be seriously looking into the complaints raised by the expatriates and help them solve this.”

He said the government is in discussion with airlines in the GCC, including the UAE, to expand its scheme to offer discounts in airfare to those families with Norka registration cards.

Detailing the existing measures to support the rehabilitation of returnees, Vijayan added that NRK cooperative societies will also be made use of for the same.

He said committees will be formed to start initiatives to enhance the skills and expertise of Keralites going abroad. This will include higher education facilities, foreign language institutes and student exchange programmes.

The government will take measures to implement the recommendations of the standing committees after the deliberations in Dubai, he added.

Toll-free global helpline launched for expats from Kerala

Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday launched a toll-free helpline to address the grievances of Keralites around the world.

The Global Call Centre for the more than three million Keralites living overseas was launched in Dubai.

The hotline number +918802012345 will be operational 24 hours and would even call back the aggrieved callers if the calls are missed, it was announced.

Vijayan also launched a portal for facilitating various initiatives for the Non-Resident Keralites (NRK).

The portal http://www.norkaroots.org would facilitate attestation of certificates, issuance of the identity card for expats, skill development programmes and overseas recruitment.

These are the initiatives facilitated through Norka Roots, a public sector undertaking under the Norka department for NRKs.

The announcements were made before the chief minister addressed thousands of Keralites during a cultural festival held as part of the Loka Kerala Sabha Middle East Conference at Dubai’s Etisalat Academy.