The Kerala government will soon introduce a contributory pension scheme for all non-resident Keralites (NRKs) - the first of its kind in India, state Labour Minister PK Gurudasan said in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.
Gurudasan said it would be a comprehensive scheme where NRKs could contribute towards the pension fund.
"The state government would make a contribution and it would be given back as pension after a minimum lock-in period. The draft of the proposed scheme is ready and is currently being tested at various levels. It will go to the law department and then to the state assembly," Gurudasan said.
The minister, a former trade union leader, said he had seen many NRKs return empty-handed after a short stint in the Middle East. This led him to back the pension scheme.
"I have handed over the draft of the proposed scheme to people who have worked with NRKs. We will finalise it later this month," Gurudasan said.
There are an estimated two million Malayalis working abroad, of which nearly 90 per cent are in the Gulf countries.
Manjalamkuzhi Ali, an MLA and one of the brains behind the fund, said the scheme could be launched before the next assembly session in June if everything went according to plan.
"Since the state government is short of finances to contribute to this scheme, we are expecting assistance from the centre," said Ali, a former NRK.
"We also expect yearly contributions towards the pension scheme from air travel agents, transport operators and cargo agents - people who benefit immensely from NRKs," he added.