KOCHI: Ettumanoor-native Sibi Mani Kumaramangalam is one among the thousands of Keralites who have made Italy their home. As Italy is passing through a dark period following Covid-19 outbreak which killed thousands and pushed the country into an economic crisis, Italy’s Democratic Party leader Sibi says the Malayalis who have settled in Italy are content with the treatment facilities in Italy and they do not prefer to leave the country.
“We currently have only those Malayali families in Italy who settled here years ago and do not want to leave the country. The government is supportive of these families and they don’t face any issues,” said Sibi who reached Italy at the age of 22 and rose to become the president of Italian Democratic Party, a major constituent of the country’s ruling front, in capital city Rome.
There are over 1,80,000 Indians settled in Italy of which around 35,000 are from Kerala. “Those who have come to Italy on temporary basis as students and tourists left for India in March itself. The intensity of virus spread has declined and the lockdown is expected to be lifted on May 3. There is no prevailing situation in Italy wherein Indians want to return to their native places for any medical care. The country is providing food coupons to those facing shortage of food, unemployment fund and even economic packages to business people,” Sibi said.
The leader, who was elected to the national assembly of Italian Democratic Party in 2008 and was in charge of immigration department of the party’s Lazio region, said some changes in the immigration policy are expected post Covid-19 period. “Apart from the highly skilled, Italy allows entry of immigrants only for seasonal works mainly in agriculture and tourism sectors. There are nearly six lakh illegal immigrants in Italy who have reached the country through various channels and continue to over stay. We are mooting a proposal wherein new immigration clearance will not be given to seasonal workers, instead legalise the illegal immigrants and use their service for these works which are mainly labour in farms and as support staff in hotels and restaurants which will be opened along the Italian coast during the summer,” he said.
On dealing with economic crisis, he said Italy being part of the European Union, will go by the collective decision of EU in tackling the crisis. Already, the EU has announced a slew of economic measures. Italy needs to be part of the EU for competing with the US, China and India.
“This is really going to be a testing time for the region as the very existence of EU will depend on how these countries collectively work to deal with the economic crisis. If EU proposes any special business relations with India, we will welcome it,” he added.