Joseph will be part of a Kerala delegation at the Pravasti Bhartiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Gujarat capital Gandhinagar from January 7 to 9.  Chief Minister Oommen Chandy would lead the delegation and there would be a Kerala Pavilion at the three-day event which will showcase "our advantages to the visiting diaspora".

" Kerala is probably the only state that has led from the front to support its diaspora, whenever there arose an occasion. There are limitations for a state and currently we have launched a rehabilitation package for those who have returned from the Middle-East. It's here we seek the Centre to support us financially when we draw up special schemes," the minister said.

Of the 23.63 lakh Keralites who went abroad, 90 percent are in various Middle-East countries. Close to 13 lakhs have returned from these countries. According to the latest figures from the State Level Bankers Committee, the total remittances made by the Kerala diaspora to the banks here has crossed Rs.1 lakh crores.

"The chief minister will be speaking on January 9 at the chief minister's session. He will touch upon the issue of giving necessary sanction for our proposal to start our own airline- Air Kerala and also on the hefty air fares being charged by airlines operating to the Middle-East," Joseph said.

According to the minister, the Kerala government is perhaps the only state government which recently has come out with a financial assistance package for the members of diaspora who have returned.

"We along with two public sector banks have launched a self employment scheme and by now more than 20,000 people have applied for it. The maximum cap on loans would be Rs. two million and the Kerala government would offer a 10 percent subsidy to all those who begin an enterprise in the agriculture, trading, manufacturing or the service sectors," he said.

Joseph, who would present Kerala's progress card in the Gulf Session, scheduled for January 9, also said: "The Kerala Pavilion will showcase investment opportunities for the visitors and tourism, IT would be the key areas."



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