Just 80 Keralites arrive from Saudi Arabia

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 4 : Despite speculation in the media that a large contingent of people from Kerala would return from Saudi Arabia as the amnesty period for people staying illegally in that country ended Sunday, only 80 arrived.

Speaking to IANS Monday, P. Sudeep, chief executive officer of Norka-Roots (the state agency for the diaspora community) said 80 people had registered themselves with the help desks at the three Kerala airports.

"The help desks are there in all the three airports in the state, and people can also register online through our site. Since April this year, when the amnesty period first began, till now, just 13,710 people have made use of this scheme," Sudeep said.

The Kerala government had earlier announced that it would foot the bill of those who return to the state under the amnesty scheme.

"We still do not know the reason why the response is so poor, and we have already made it clear that the Saudi Arabian authorities, under no circumstances, would extend the deadline, as they have in the past," said state Minister for the Diaspora K.C. Joseph.

Saudi Arabia is implementing the Nitaqat or Saudisation policy, which makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 percent of jobs for Saudi nationals. According to the first ever state government-sponsored survey conducted recently, 88 percent of the 1.63 million population of the Kerala diaspora lives in the Middle East -- the UAE leads with 573,289 people, followed by 450,229 in Saudi Arabia.

"There is a high-level state government meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to decide on the rehabilitation scheme of returnees," Sudeep said.

--IANS (Posted on 04-11-2013)

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