Norka boosts budget for Kerala returnees
The state's government has also expanded the coverage of the NDPREM to Rs3 million in business capital investment.
Non-resident Keralites (NRK) returning home will receive more aid from the South Indian state's government, according to an official of the Non-Resident Keralites' Affairs Department (Norka).
Harikrishnan Namboothiri, CEO of Norka Roots, announced that an additional fund has been set aside specifically for NRK returnee programmes, the Norka - Santhwana and the Norka Department Project for Returned Emigrants (NDPREM).
An additional Rs100 million over and above the current budget of Rs150 million for Santhwana has been earmarked for distressed NRKs and individuals with serious health conditions, such as partial paralysis, kidney problems and heart diseases.
The state's government has also expanded the coverage of the NDPREM to Rs3 million in business capital investment. The project provides funding and support to NRKs who wish to launch small business ventures upon their return to Kerala.
"Norka Roots releases a capital subsidy of 15 per cent of the project cost, subject to a maximum of Rs2 million and interest subsidy of three per cent for the first four years, to those beneficiaries who pay regularly. For the new fiscal year, we will provide an investment support of up to Rs3 million," said Namboothiri.
He said Norka has already disbursed the existing budget allocation of Rs150 million under the NDPREM scheme to 2,452 applicants during the 2018 financial year.
"However, our current year target is to give assistance to 3,750 applicants," said the CEO. All NRKs who have lived in foreign countries for over two years can apply for the programme.
Aid to the vulnerable
Under the Santhwana programme, monetary aid is provided to meet the medical expenses of an NRK or his dependents, as well as offer assistance for cases of death in the family.
Funds will also be allocated for a returnee's other needs, such as marriage expenses of his daughter and the purchase of crutches, wheelchair and other aids for a physical disability.
A Press statement from the government body warned people of alleged 'middlemen' or 'brokers' who run a scam by taking commissions for the services.
"All interested applicants need to apply for the service directly on the Norka Roots website (www.norkaroots.net) or through the hotline numbers mentioned on the webpage," Norka said in the statement.
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