40,000 Kerala diaspora returnees seek self-employment loans

A total of 40,000 applications have been received in response to the Kerala government's rehabilitation programme for diaspora who return to the state, a government official said on Tuesday.

Thiruvananthapuram: A total of 40,000 applications have been received in response to the Kerala government's rehabilitation programme for diaspora who return to the state, a government official said on Tuesday.

The applications for loans at the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (Norka) are for small projects in services, trading, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

Following the Saudi Arabian government's new labour policy to expand job avenues for locals in 2013, the Kerala government promised suitable rehabilitation schemes for Malayalis working there upon their return home.

According to a recent study, the number of emigrants who have returned in the state is 12.48 lakh.

Speaking to IANS, Norka chief executive P Sudeep said the Kerala government has now signed up with the Canara Bank and the Union Bank of India that are extending loans to the returning diaspora with a maximum ceiling of Rs 2 million.

"In all, we have received more than 40,000 such applications. In the first lot of 19,500, more than 7,000 have been processed while 453 have been cleared and given loans for more than Rs 30 crore. Norka is providing a subsidy of 10 percent subject to a maximum of Rs 2 lakh," said Sudeep.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Minister for Diaspora KC Joseph met top banking officials and got assurances from them that they will partner the state government for extending loans to the return diaspora.

"All other banks have now agreed to join Kerala government and will extend loan facilities to the applications cleared by Norka from Nov 1," Joseph told reporters here.

Norka in October will hold a special programme to clear all pending loan applications in the Malappuram district, which has the largest number of return diaspora.

"All those return diaspora to be eligible for this loan scheme should have spent a minimum of two years abroad. They can log on to the Norka website and make the first application after which we will follow it up," said Sudeep.