Opposition leader Chennithala for more support packages from Centre

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on April 07, 2020 Published on April 06, 2020

Ramesh Chennithala

The expected influx of Gulf-returnees may push the State into a financial crisis as remittances from the Arab nations falter.

“The Covid-19 crisis had only worsened the economic conditions in the Gulf countries, which were already impacted by falling oil prices and the unfolding global financial crisis. Even before the pandemic, a lot of Keralites working in the Gulf had lost their jobs, and now the situation has aggravated,” Ramesh Chennithala, leader of Opposition in Kerala Legislative Assembly, told BusinessLine in telephonic interview.

Of nearly 7.6 million Indians who live and work in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, just over 2.5 million are from Kerala. The GCC also provides over 50 per cent of India’s foreign exchange remittances at $37 billion, of which Kerala accounts for 19 per cent of the remittances.

Not much jobs

“There aren’t much job opportunities in Kerala and the influx could lead to a financial crisis. The Government should inject more money to increase the amount of disposable income, apart from introducing programmes like the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY),” Chennithala said, adding there was no estimate on the expected number of returnees.

NYAY was mooted by the Congress party in its election manifesto to provide financial support to the country’s poorest citizens. Under the scheme, ₹72,000 per annum (₹6,000 per month) was to be provided through a direct benefit transfer scheme to the poorest 20 per cent families or about 5 crore Indian households.

According to Chennithala, the Central government should also announce another economic package to tide over the Covid-19 crisis, and also come up with programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). He also wantedloan repayments deferred, incentives such as tax holidays and special packages for Small and Medium Businesses, start-ups and traditional industries such as coir and handloom.

The traditional farmers such as cashew nut, coconut, cardamon and rubber cultivators are finding it difficult to sell their produce, while migrant labourers are also facing job issues due to the lockdown. Kerala is a consumer State, and the supply chain has been also impacted due to the social distancing, he added.

“There are many short-comings, but we are not considering these as this is the time to stay united. Despite, the political differences, the Government is also open to our suggestions. However, if the State makes salary challenge compulsory, then we will react,” Chennithala said.

Expert group

Kerala State’s opposition is also forming a five-member Expert Group, which will be headed by Chennithala and with members including KM Chandrasekhar (Vice-Chairman of Kerala State Planning Board); G Vijayaraghavan (former CEO of Trivandrum Technopark) and doctors among others. It is to support and guide both Central and State Governments.

Published on April 06, 2020

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