Thiruvananthapuram: Presenting his 10th budget in the Kerala assembly on Monday, Finance Minister K.M. Mani announced a slew of benefits for the state`s diaspora, including a hike in financial assistance and opening a business guidance centre.
Mani announced that the financial assistance extended to the weaker and poorer sections of the diaspora included assistance to bring back the bodies of those who die while working abroad, medical assistance, and increase in marriage fund from Rs. 10,000 to Rs.20,000.
"For this I have set aside Rs.1.50 crores. Also Rs.50 lakhs has been set aside to open a business centre which will advise the diaspora who are keen to set up business ventures in the state," said Mani.
According to the latest studies done by the Centre for Development Studies, the diaspora`s remittances account for 31.23 percent of Kerala`s net state domestic product.
The number of Keralites living abroad in 2011 is estimated at 2.28 million, up from 2.19 million in 2008. It was 1.84 million in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998.
"I have also set aside Rs.50 lakhs which would be used to bring back the Keralite`s currently lodged in jails in the Middle East countries," said Mani.
"Already a scheme has been launched to this effect in Saudi Arabia with the help of the Keralite business community there. Now with this allocation it would be launched in other countries also," added Mani.
Mani has also set aside Rs.50 lakhs for the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas to be held in the state for the first time next January.