Congress seeks central help for Kerala emigres in Saudi

Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) The Kerala unit of the Congress party Thursday sought from the central government a Rs.100 crore assistance package for Kerala emigres who may lose their jobs in Saudi Arabia under its new work policy.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala said the state party unit will submit a detailed proposal to the Kerala government on how the assistance be utilised.

“We propose that all those who return within a year of migration to the Middle East should be given an assistance of up to Rs.50,000 to tide over their immediate financial crisis,” said Chennithala.

The proposals also include a new pension scheme of Rs.1,000 for those who are above 60 years of age.

“The diaspora who return on health grounds and are unable to do any productive work should be given a monthly pension of Rs.1,000 besides a new medical insurance policy should be announced for all (such) migrants,” said Chennithala.

The KPCC has proposed a sum of Rs.3 lakh to be given to the families of the economically backward following the death of the migrant in an accident or if the person is unable to work due to poor health.

“Children of the people (who return) should get education scholarships, besides all those who are willing to start their own self-employment projects should be given an interest-free loan up to Rs.5 lakh,” added Chennithala.

The KPCC also asked the ministry of overseas Indian affairs to set up a recruitment agency and find employment opportunities in other Asian countries.

The KPCC initiative comes at a time when under a new Nitaqat policy or Saudisation programme in Saudi Arabia, 10 percent of jobs are to be reserved for Saudi nationals.

The policy is aimed at expanding employment opportunities for Saudi nationals and on account of this, there could be large scale exodus of Indian migrants from Saudi Arabia, media had reported.

Speaking to IANS, S. Irudayarajan, who heads the international migration section at the Centre for Development Studies here, discounted the fear of large-scale unemployment of migrants from the Middle East.

“Now everyone has started to say that there need be no fear of an exodus and none has returned. See, the tightening of labour policies in Middle East countries is not something new. It has been there for a while and after the initial knee-jerk reactions, things subside,” Irudayarajan said.

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