KOCHI: Does the election season see a spurt in remittance or deposits from the non-resident Keralites (NRKs) into the state? The answer would be “yes”, though there is no specific mechanism to track such fund flows, say experts. Usually, there will be a spike in NRK remittances during festival seasons such as Onam, Vishu, Eid or Christmas, and these can be easily monitored, they said.
A comparison of figures collated from the State Level Bankers Conference (SLBC) during the last Assembly elections in May 2016 with the same period the previous year shows no indication of higher remittances.However, experts said NRKs contribute liberally to the political parties’ elections funds and this will not be any different in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “There are Malayalee Associations for the Congress/Left parties in most Gulf countries.
We can expect funding support to the political parties from these Associations for their campaign,” said S Irudaya Rajan, professor, Centre for Development Studies (CDS), who has been studying the migration trends from Kerala since 1998. “During election time, there may be money coming to political parties from NRKs. But it is not remittance. It will be an NRI contribution to the political parties,” said Rajan.
Data on non-resident (NR) deposits also attest to what Rajan said. During the period from March 2016 to September 2016 (when the Assembly elections took place in the state), the NR deposits showed a rise of about 5.98 per cent (Rs 8112 crore) from rs 1,35,609 crore to Rs 1,43,721 crore.During the same period the previous year, the NR deposits grew much faster. As per the SLBC data, the NR deposits grew by over 10 per cent (Rs 12,016 crore) from Rs 109,603 crore to Rs 121,619 crore in the period March 2015 to September 2015 period.
Kerala State Planning Board member K N Harilal said the remittances are not restricted to the NR deposits at banks. “They come through other channels also,” he said. Harilal, however, said there are no ways to track the funds coming from the 2.2 million NRKs for election campaign purpose.A campaigner for the Congress said several NRIs are coming forward to financially support Ramya Haridas, the Congress candidate in Alathur, in their individual capacity after the party launched an online fundraising campaign.