Kerala to launch halal chit scheme for expats: Minister

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Dr Thomas Isaac at the Khaleej Times office. — Photo by Shihab
Dr Thomas Isaac at the Khaleej Times office. - Photo by Shihab

Dubai - The KIIFB, a state government agency, raised Rs21.5 billion through its debut masala bond issue.

By Anu Cinubal

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Published: Wed 22 May 2019, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 May 2019, 12:19 AM

Following the much-accepted Pravasi Chitty - an investment scheme targeting non-resident Keralites - the state is planning to launch a Halal Chitty, said Kerala Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac on Wednesday.
During a visit to Khaleej Times, the minister said Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE), which launched the Pravasi Chitty scheme, is discussing the terms of the new scheme with a panel of experts to make it Shariah-compliant. The money raised through this will be used only for Shariah-compliant purposes and there will be no auction or interest.
"Every month, the recipient of the money will be decided through  consensus. This will be a revolutionary investment scheme that will allow a free flow of money into the state's infrastructure development," said Isaac.
The minister - on his way back from London after the listing of masala bonds sold by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) - visited Khaleej Times on Wednesday. He was the guest editor of the Business section of the paper and selected stories for the print edition.
The KIIFB, a state government agency, raised Rs21.5 billion through its debut masala bond issue. It plans to raise Rs50 billion through masala bonds to fund large and critical infrastructure projects in Kerala. Indian Rupee-denominated overseas bonds are popularly known as masala bonds. With the listing, Kerala became the first Indian state to issue masala bonds.
The minister said the state is now planning to launch dollar bonds to raise funds for infrastructure development.
Isaac said Kerala is implementing a time-bound approach to infrastructure development as it rebuilds the state after the 2018 floods that caused large-scale devastation across 12 districts.
"With the KIIFB, we are planning to pump in half-a-trillion rupees into the local market for infrastructure development. Half of the projects will be launched this year. We are diversifying the source mobilisation by issuing bonds. The KIIFB funds will strictly be used for infrastructure, and not on welfare schemes. Sourcing and expenditure of the money would be transparent and will go through strict auditing at various levels. Everything will be strictly monitored to make it corruption-free," he added.
Kerala to be 'fully connected'
Isaac also elaborated on the state's plan to make all the households 'Internet-connected'.
"This will be part of the infrastructure development projects under the KIIFB. At present, Internet penetration in Kerala is the highest in India, but there are many who are left out. We plan to make Kerala fully connected and half of these connections will be free of charge."
The minister added that Kerala is implementing a project that will digitalise all the public schools in the state.
Spice Route project
Another major tourist attraction to come up in the state is the Spice Route project, which will reinvigorate the historic route of the spice trade, said Isaac.
"We want to link all the major old ports in the state through which the historic spice trade of Kerala was happening. We are doing it with the support of Unesco and other international agencies. A new 550km-long road will come up in the state, connecting all the old ports and the spice trade routes," he added.
An international conference will be held in Kochi this September with the participation of many international bodies and representatives.
Waterway development is another historic project that is being implemented, said the minister. "By the end of next year, Kerala will have a waterway that will make it possible to travel throughout the state. This will not be just for the houseboats or traditional commuting, but also for huge barges that will make transporting huge containers much easier," he said.
He added that Kerala is expecting investment and cooperation from the UAE in major infrastructure projects, including the North-South High Speed Rail Corridor. Healthcare sector is also planning a revamp with a Rs50-billion investment through KIIFB, said Isaac.

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