Kerala sets up fund for rehabilitation of Gulf returnees

Updated 24 January 2014

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.


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.