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State has to be ready for those who return

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Facing a litmus test in a few months, the state government now has a new task cut out for itself in the coming days. While it is still struggling to fund its populist schemes, the state government will now have to make sure the lakhs of Kannadigas, who have begun to return to Karnataka, following Saudi Arabia’s ‘Saudisation’ decision, are accommodated in the state.

Lakhs of businessmen and blue-collared labourers, who will lose their jobs once the order is implemented in September, are heading back home.

A delegation of about 15 businessmen hailing from Bhatkal and settled in various regions of Saudi Arabia met Dr Arathi Krishna, Deputy Chairperson of Non-Resident Indian Forum, Karnataka, on Monday and demanded a ‘rehabilitation package’ for businessmen and labourers, especially those from the coastal belt.

The delegation demanded a separate land to set up industries, townships for NRI Kannadigas and tax incentives for a period of 10-years.

Dr Krishna, who visited the labourers’ camps in Riyadh and Jedda, recently held talks with about 5,000 labourers from Karnataka.

“There is information that out of the 7-10 lakh Indians settled in Saudi about 2-3 lakh are from Karnataka and 75 per cent of them belong to various towns in coastal Karnataka. We are thinking whether to come up with a new formula or adopt the Kerala model. I am aware that the polls are due in a few months and concrete action may not be possible at the earliest. I am also making it a point to include this in our manifesto,” she said.

Younus Khadya, a businessman of Bhatkal origin, settled in Tamam said, “The Saudi government’s revised Nitaqat scheme will affect people employed in about 12 sectors. September 30 will be the final deadline for the labourers to leave Saudi.

The government must act swiftly so that the Kannadigas who return can carry on with their livelihood.”

DYFI state president Muneer Katipalla told Bangalore Mirror, that according to an estimate at least 5,000 people from Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have already returned and the number of people going to Saudi Arabia in search of jobs has reduced by 75 per cent.

Most companies, are sending employees back home on a six-month holiday without pay, while some companies have already reduced salaries or salaries are delayed.
Most people run small business or worked in mobile, watch, ice cream, tea stalls or bakeries, he said.

“We were expecting the government to take up the issue during the budget. If government does not step in and help expatriates, the economy of the state will be affected. Real estate is expected to fall,” he said.

Life has changed for many of the Gulf returnees. Those who are above 50 years are worried as they would have worked there for the last 30 years and have come back without any savings.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

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