Kerala sets up fund for rehabilitation of Gulf returnees

Updated 24 January 2014
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Kerala sets up fund for rehabilitation of Gulf returnees

Kerala has announced Rs 100-million fund for rehabilitation of returnees from the Gulf region after job loss besides a training program spending Rs 20 million.
The southern Indian state is taking these measures in view of the recent Nitaqat initiatives of Saudi Arabia. The authorities fear a large-scale exodus of undocumented migrants if other GCC countries follow suit.
These proposals are part of the state’s annual budget Finance Minister KM Mani presented in the Legislative Assembly Friday. “The master trainers for this will also be recruited from the (successful) emigrants (who have returned for good),” Mani said in his budget speech.
It also plans to launch an intensive awareness campaign among the prospective emigrants through print and electronic media against the fake recruiting agents at a cost of Rs 6 million.
“There are a lot of people landed up in the prisons of the Gulf countries after being duped by visa rackets and fake recruiting agents. (This is) to avoid such a plight,” he said.
The government will also prepare a data bank of the Kerala diaspora to provide details of their qualifications and expertise, which will also be utilized to upgrade skills of the returnees.
“I have set aside Rs.5 million to set up a data bank of the diaspora who are experts in various fields and their expertise could be used for the betterment of the state,” Mani said.
He has also set aside Rs.2.5 million for conducting investor seminars and for promotion of Kerala culture among the diaspora through seminars and other similar programs in the US and Europe.
The budget for the fiscal year 2014-15 gives stress on the agriculture sector to improve productivity through incentives in view of the rising food prices and mobilization of resources through raising taxes. He has also set aside about Rs 500 million for an income guaranteed scheme.
The scheme benefits farmers cultivating within two hectares of land in case their crops fail and 90 percent of the expenses of the insurance will be borne by the government.
Other farmer-friendly projects include the formation of an Agriculture Mission to promote hi-tech farming with the help of agencies like M.S. Swaminathan Foundation and setting up of cooperatives for marketing the produces.
There will be a price hike for various commodities, including all cooking oil except coconut and rice bran oil, two-wheelers, cars and luxury cars and Indian made foreign liquor.

The additional tax on LPG will be taken off so that the customers will have to pay Rs 41 less per cylinder but this was an announcement made earlier.
The Finance Minister also announced a scheme to provide laptops for girls from poor families pursuing professional courses and a project for early detection of cancer.
Some other welfare schemes include state funding of education for orphaned children up to Class XII and monthly financial assistance to elders suffering from chronic illnesses. He announced a substantial increase in the pensions for the destitute.
He sought to raise additional resources of Rs15.56 billion, collecting around Rs 2.6 billion from motor vehicles and transport sector alone. The budget sharply increased the purchase tax on imported vehicles, lump sum tax on motor cars of various capacities and sizes, new generation caravans and interstate coaches.
It also hiked the duty on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) by 10 percent, eyeing to net an additional amount of Rs4billion. He rationalized the compounding taxes on metal crusher units and brought manufactured sand under the tax net, which together would contribute Rs1.4bn.
The concession enjoyed by eateries selling multi-national brands had been withdrawn, making the food sold by them costly. The service apartments given on a daily rental basis had been slapped with a 12.5 percent tax and doubled taxes on buildings and levy on luxury buildings. It proposes to increase the fair value of land and to rationalize stamp duty for various document registration.
The budget exempted the Kochi Metro project from Works Contract Tax, which will cause Rs2.5bn loss to the state government.
The budget showed a total revenue income of Rs.648.42 billion, while revenue expenditure was pegged at Rs.719.74 billion and after providing for additional expenditure and resource mobilization, the budget shows a year end deficit of Rs1.69 billion.
The State has registered a remarkable growth rate of 8.2 percent in 2012-13 despite the economic slowdown being witnessed in India.


Kenya says Nairobi attack over, all five gunmen killed

Updated 16 January 2019
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Kenya says Nairobi attack over, all five gunmen killed

  • The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali group Al-Shabab
  • “There were five terrorists and all of them are no more,” Kenyan police said

NAIROBI: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday that gunmen who stormed a luxury hotel complex, killing 14 people, had been “eliminated” after an almost 20-hour operation in which hundreds of civilians were rescued.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali group Al-Shabab, which has targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the extremist group.
At least one suicide bomber blew himself up and others swapped gunfire with security forces as the assault on DusitD2, a complex which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and offices, unfolded on Tuesday.
“There were five terrorists and all of them are no more,” Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet told AFP. “It is a clearing exercise now going on there.”
For many Kenyans, news of the attack revived traumatic memories of a 2013 Shabab raid on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that left 67 dead — a siege played out over four days that led to sharp criticism of the authorities’ response.
But this time, local media heaped praise on the security forces for their intervention, which Kenyatta said entailed the evacuation of some 700 civilians.
“I can confirm that... the security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated,” Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation.
“As of this moment, we have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost to the... terrorists, with others injured.”
George Kinoti, the director of criminal investigations, told AFP that “two principal suspects” had been arrested in connection with the attack.
He said one was arrested in the suburb of Eastleigh, and the other in Ruaka, northwest of Nairobi, where officers carried out a raid on a house where one of the attackers lived.
“One of the men was identified by locals, who called police and they have confirmed that he lived there with his wife,” a police source said on condition of anonymity.
CCTV footage broadcast on local media showed four black-clad, heavily-armed men entering the complex on Tuesday afternoon.
At least one of them blew himself up at the start of the attack.
A police source said two attackers were shot dead Wednesday morning after a prolonged shootout.
“The two have red bandanas tied around their forehead and bullets strapped around their chest with several magazines each,” the senior police officer said.
“Each had an AK47 which has been secured.”
The attack began at about 3pm (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, with a loud blast followed by gunfire and rapid calls for help spreading on Twitter.
Boinnet earlier said the attack began with an explosion targeting three cars in the parking lot and a suicide bombing in the hotel foyer.
Police sources and a mortuary official had previously reported 15 dead.
Among the dead was an American citizen, a State Department official said.
The British foreign office confirmed the death of a British-South African dual national and said another British person was injured.
A mortuary official said there were also 11 Kenyan victims, one with no papers, as well as an unidentified torso of a male adult.
It was a tormented night for families of those trapped as they waited outside the hotel while sporadic gunfire rang out.
After dawn, explosions and shooting intensified until the complex was secured mid-morning.
In downtown Nairobi, dozens of people lined up at a memorial for the US Embassy destroyed during an Al-Qaeda attack in 1998 to give blood.
As the first explosion and gunfire rang out in the leafy Westlands suburb, hundreds of terrified office workers barricaded themselves in the complex while others fled.
Distraught family members arrived at a nearby mortuary on Wednesday, where they said they had not been permitted to view the bodies.
“My sister is not in any of the hospitals and the last time we spoke she was a bit calm but suddenly she started crying and shouting and I could hear gunshots and her phone remained on but she wasn’t speaking,” said a woman who gave her name as Njoki.
“We have no doubt her body is here. Let them allow us in,” she said, weeping.
One survivor rescued from the building told a local television station the attackers were “very confident; they were people who knew what they were doing.”
John Maingi said there had been “a flash of lights and a loud bang” at the Secret Garden restaurant where he works.
“When I peeped outside I saw a human leg which has been cut off. We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us,” he said.
An editorial in the Daily Nation newspaper said the attack was a stark reminder that Kenya’s security challenges were far from over.
The last major attack in the country took place in 2015, when Shabab killed 148 people at the university in Garissa, eastern Kenya.
Since then sporadic attacks have targeted security forces mostly in the remote northeastern parts of the country.
“Just when we thought that things were calm, the gangs unleashed mayhem. For Kenyans the chilling reality is that the attacks are not ceasing,” read the editorial.