Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is planning to raise from 55 years to 60 the age for expatriates to register their names in the diaspora pension scheme, a minister said here on Monday.

State Excise Minister K. Babu, replying to a calling attention motion moved by Left opposition legislator K.V. Abdul Khader, told the state assembly that steps are being worked out to see if the age of entry to the scheme can be increased from 55 to 60 years.

“The scheme was launched in 2009 and the maximum age of entry was 55. Pension would become payable after a person completes a minimum period of five years. So now that the five-year payment period is over, from next month onwards all those who wish to get the monthly pension would be paid out,” he said.

So far, 127,639 people have registered for the scheme. Over 90 per cent of Kerala’s nearly three million strong diaspora lives in the Middle East.

Besides, Babu said letters have been sent to those who have defaulted in the monthly remittances to the scheme. “All those who are ready to settle the dues of their monthly remittances would get the monthly pension from next month onwards,” he said.

Earlier, Khader said the much talked about rehabilitation scheme launched by the Oommen Chandy government for Keralites who had to return from Saudi Arabia after a new labour law was implemented, has not benefited people.

In reply, Babu said: “Under various programmes for the diaspora, so far 426 people have benefited and the state government has given Rs8 million [Dh488,993] to them.”

Under diaspora welfare schemes, loans up to Rs2 million for specific projects are given, where a 10 per cent subsidy on the capital is also given.