Minister for Culture and NoRKA Affairs (Non-Resident Keralite Affairs) K.C. Joseph said here on Monday that the State government would speed up the procedures to raise the age limit from 55 to 60 years for securing the benefits of the Pravasi Welfare Fund under the Kerala Non-Resident Keralites' Welfare Board.
He was speaking after inaugurating a district conference of the Kerala Pradesh Pravasi Returnees Congress at the District Congress Committee (DCC). Mr. Joseph said the government had already taken steps to revise the existing norms to raise the age limit of the beneficiaries. This was a long-pending demand of expatriates from the State, Mr. Joseph said.
The Minister said the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) was committed to providing legal aid to Non-Residents Keralities, especially those lodged in jails for minor offences in Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The government was in touch with Indian embassies in these nations. Separate committees would be constituted under NoRKA to secure their release as soon as possible, he added.
Mr. Joseph said the government would soon launch different projects for Gulf returnees in association with the Kerala Non-Resident Keralites' Welfare Board and NoRKA. They had played a significant role in helping the UDF emerge victorious in the Assembly elections, he said adding that the UDF had always taken a stand favouring the expatriates.
However, he cautioned that the job prospects in many Gulf countries were not very bright on account of various factors. Consequently the government had also considered introducing a rehabilitation package for the returnees. A housing scheme with the participation of expatriates was one such initiative. Likewise, the government was considering proposals to provide interest-free loans for education and starting entrepreneurial ventures, Mr. Joseph said.
Kerala Non-Resident Keralites' Welfare Board chairman P.M.A. Salam was felicitated on the occasion. Kerala Pradesh Pravasi Returnees Congress president K.M. Seethi presided. DCC president K.C. Abu and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committe general secretary P. Sankaran were also present.