Jaipur: Fulfilling a long-standing demand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday announced a new pension and life insurance scheme for overseas Indian workers that would allow over five million workers, especially those working in the Gulf, to save money for the future.
Announcing the Government's decision to introduce and sponsor the Pension and Life Insurance Fund (PLIF) at the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, Singh said the scheme will encourage the overseas workers to voluntarily save money for their resettlement and old age.
"I am happy to inform you that the government has decided to introduce and sponsor a new Pension and Life Insurance Fund for overseas Indian workers.
"The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and old age," Singh said in his address that was heard with rapt attention by over 1,900 delegates from 60 countries.
Singh said the scheme, which was recently cleared by the cabinet, will also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death.
"This scheme fulfills a long-pending demand of our workers abroad," he said.
Under the scheme, the government will co-contribute Rs 1,000 per annum for all subscribers who contribute between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000 per year.
Women overseas workers will enjoy a special additional co- contribution of Rs 1000 a year.
Referring to his Government's decision to allow Non-Resident Indians to vote in elections, he said pursuant to the law in this regard the Government has issued notifications for registration of overseas Indians under the Representation of People Act, 1950. Singh said, "this constitutes the first major step to enable Indians resident abroad to participate in our election processes".
In its efforts to merge the People of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizen of India schemes, Singh said the government introduced a Bill in this regard by amending the Citizenship Act in the just concluded Parliament session.
"This will rectify some of the anomalies in the schemes and provide for an Overseas Indian Card which will be given to foreign spouses of such card holders as well," the Prime Minister said.
He noted that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was implementing the e-migrate project to provide end-to-end computerised solutions for all processes in the emigration
The system will link all key stakeholders on a common platform which will be used by workers, offices of the protector of emigrants, recruitment agencies, immigration officials, employers and the Indian missions abroad, he said.
Singh also said the government was expanding the scope of the Labour Mobility Partnership Agreements is being expanded to cover not only skilled workers but also students, academics and professionals.
Such Human Resource Mobility Partnership agreements are being negotiated with The Netherlands, France, Australia and the European Union.
Singh also paid rich tributes to the Indian community abroad and said the Indian diaspora has much more to contribute to the building of modern India.
"The government and people of India recognize and greatly value the important role being played by Indian communities living abroad.
"We propose to facilitate, encourage and promote this engagement. Over the past year we have taken a number of steps towards this end," he said.
"The 'global Indian' is a symbol of this diversity of our ancient land. Your individual prosperity and personal achievement are a symbol of what a diverse people like us can achieve," he said.
First Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012, 14:13