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.


Trump becomes first foreign leader to meet Japan’s new emperor

Updated 27 May 2019
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Trump becomes first foreign leader to meet Japan’s new emperor

TOKYO: Donald Trump on Monday became the first foreign leader to meet with Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito — an honor Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes will help charm the US president when it comes to thorny trade talks.
The palace visit in the morning, followed by a royal banquet in the evening, was the main event in a feel-good trip that started Saturday and has seen Abe and Trump playing golf, eating out, watching sumo and generally enjoying an all-Japanese weekend.
Dining with Abe and their wives at a typical Tokyo grill restaurant on Sunday, Trump said he “had a great time” and was looking forward to meeting Naruhito, who took the Chrysanthemum Throne only three weeks ago, after his father stepped down in the first abdication in two centuries.
“Tomorrow is really the main event — a very important event in the history of Japan. It’s over 200 years since something like this has happened. So it’s a great honor to be representing the United States,” Trump said.
After calling on Naruhito in the morning, Trump and his avowed close friend Abe will meet for summit talks and have lunch, before holding a press conference.
On Sunday, they grinned for a selfie and praised each other’s golf game. Before the dinner, Abe also accompanied Trump to a sumo tournament where the US president presented a gigantic trophy, brought from the United States, to the champion wrestler.
Abe hopes those good vibes will spread into talks on trade, military ties, the stumbling efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and a growing superpower rivalry between Washington and Beijing.
Within an hour of touching down in Tokyo, Trump railed against what he sees as a trade imbalance between the world’s top and third-largest economies and vowed to make the relationship “a little bit more fair.”
But on Sunday, Trump struck a softer note, saying that “much” of that deal would wait until Abe faces upper house elections likely in July — as rumors swirl that the popular prime minister will combine that vote with a snap general election.
With his trade war against China getting bogged down, Trump won’t want to rock the boat for his closest Asian ally.
Top Japanese and American trade negotiators spent more than two hours locked in talks on Saturday night but failed to achieve a breakthrough, although the Japanese side said there was more “understanding” between the two sides.

Loving Chairman Kim
On North Korea, Trump appeared to undercut his own national security adviser, the hawkish John Bolton, by downplaying two recent short-range missile tests by Kim which raised tensions in the region.
“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” Trump tweeted.
“I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.”
Before Trump landed in Tokyo, Bolton had told reporters there was “no doubt” that the launches contravened UN Security Council resolutions, the first time a senior US administration official has said this.
The issue is bound to come up as the leaders meet families of people abducted by North Korea during the Cold War era to train Pyongyang’s spies, an emotive issue in Japan that Abe has pressed Trump to raise in talks with Kim.
The nationalist Abe himself has frequently offered to meet Kim to solve the “abductee problem,” as it is known in Japan.
On Tuesday, Trump is expected to address troops at a US base in Japan, highlighting the military alliance between the two allies.
His visit there will underline another big US priority — arms sales to Japan, which is considering revamping its air force with advanced US F-35 warplanes.