Kerala announces special project for expatriates who lost jobs in COVID crisis

Published : July 01, 2020 22:26 IST

The Kerala government has decided to implement a special project in the context of COVID-19 pandemic aimed at the rehabilitation of expatriate Keralites returning home after losing jobs.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said while announcing the Cabinet decision in Thiruvananthapuram on July 1 that the State government would work in a time-bound manner to get the project rolling by November 15. The project, to be named ‘Dream Kerala’, is aimed at the rehabilitation of NRKs and the overall development of the State.

The Chief Minister said a large section of people returning to the State from abroad and other States are professionals who have international exposure in various sectors. Many of them are successful entrepreneurs. The project aims to utilise their skills for the future development of the State.

The government estimates that 52 per cent of the total 1,43,147 persons who have returned to the State so far have lost their jobs. There are 46,257 persons whose VISAs have expired.

From May 7 till June 30, 870 flights and three ships has come from abroad, including 600 chartered flights. The highest number of flights have come from UAE: 73,212 people in 446 flight.

Requests for more flights are coming in. The Chief Minister said: “We are not denying entry to anybody. The COVID pandemic has created another crisis for people who have been working abroad. The economic impact of the pandemic has seriously affected the industrial and commercial establishments in many countries. In this context, more and more people are losing jobs and returning to their homeland. The State government has given serious consideration to this problem and the ‘Dream Kerala’ project is meant to help returning expatriates.”

Vijayan said that the general public would be given opportunities to provide ideas and recommendations for this project on Kerala’s future development and needs. The government will then conduct a hackathon with a special focus on how to implement the selected ideas.

A committee of young civil service officers is being formed to provide expert advice on implementing specific projects, which will be honed by an expert committee before the recommendations are submitted to the departments concerned. The departments will take a decision on the selected ideas within a week.

The government has also formed a steering committee for the project under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister and with the Speaker of the Kerala Assembly, the Opposition Leader, four Ministers, the Chief Secretary and the Secretaries of the various departments as members.

An eight-member expert committee under the chairmanship of (former Chief Secretary) Dr K.M. Abraham will also be formed for project implementation.

The Chief Minister said a timeline had been fixed for project implementation as follows: ‘Dream Kerala’ Campaign ‘Ideathon’: from July 15 to July 30; sectoral Hackathon: from August 1 to 10; presentation of selected project in virtual Assembly: August 14; project implementation: 100 days, so as to completed by November 15, 2020.

Pointing out that NRKs have a prominent role to play in Kerala’s economic development, the Chief Minister said NRK remittances are the main reason why Kerala’s per capita is income remains high. As per the Economic Survey 2018, the annual remittances by NRKs was Rs.85,000 crore. Now it is more than Rs.1 lakh crore. As per 2018 economic data, the NRK remittances in Kerala’s banks was Rs.1,69,944 crore. Dream Kerala is being implemented to utilise NRK deposits for the State’s development and to ensure a steady source of income to the returning expatriates,” he said.

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