THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Pravasi Chit scheme launched by Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE) Ltd for NRIs brings back memories of popular Malayalam movie ‘Nadodikaattu’ in which the two protagonists dream about getting rich one day by selling milk from their newly brought cows, which is still being used by trollers on social media. When the scheme was launched in 2018, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac had announced the ambitious target of one million NRIs as subscribers and Rs 30,000-crore turnover by 2020.
Further, he said the fund collected through the chits would be invested in the bonds of the state government’s Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and that it would be used for infrastructure development, mainly for developing hill highways. The FM had also announced a target of mobilising Rs 10,000 crore in the first year. However, with barely two months remaining this year, KSFE could collect only Rs 67 crore and has invested only Rs 63 crore in government bonds. According to KSFE, the economic slump in West Asia has hit the pravasi chit plans.
Stats say it all
The stats available with the finance department show that KSFE has been able to enrol only 11,443 NRIs in the Pravasi Chit scheme so far, contributing to around I63 crore investment in KIIFB so far. Among the enrolled, NRIs from the UAE account for the highest number with 5,716 followed by Saudi Arabia (860), Qatar (860), Oman (515), Kuwait (498), Bahrain (367), and European countries (122).
Interestingly, KSFE officials had gone on six foreign tours for promoting the chit scheme costing `34.72 lakh in the meantime. While it had to spend only `3.49 lakh for the UAE promo, `15.18 lakh was spent for the Oman trip and `13.58 lakh for the UK trip. Though the number of enrolments in the scheme has been far from expected, the officials claim that an altogether 1,22,000 NRIs have expressed willingness to join the scheme and 28,000 applicants have completed the KYC formalities, a mandatory process before joining the scheme.
Speaking to TNIE, KSFE chairman Peelipose Thomas said, “The target we set was a bit overambitious. However, amid the financial crisis, KSFE has been getting an average enrolment of 250 NRIs daily. It’s true that the economic slowdown in the West Asia has upset the plans of KSFE which was mainly banking on the GCC countries to meet its target.
“Though the European market was targeted, it could not make any headway as majority of Keralites who have settled in those countries have shown least enthusiasm in the chit scheme as KSFE’s transaction is in Indian currency. They wanted it to be in foreign currencies which KSFE cannot offer due to the RBI regulations.” Another factor that contributed to the lukewarm response was the absence of an intense competition among the chit auctions, Thomas said. If there is an intense competition, naturally more dividends would be given to the subscribers. “To overcome this, KSFE now has decided to include non-resident Keralites who live outside the state into the purview of the scheme, which would ensure more healthy competition in the auctions. This would be launched without much delay,” he said.