x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

India sets up pension scheme for expatriate citizens in UAE

Subscribers must contribute a minimum of 5,000 Indian rupees (Dh329), with the ministry's contributions varying depending on gender.

ABU DHABI // About one million expatriates will benefit from an Indian government pension scheme due to be launched in the UAE by the end of this month.

Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana is a social-security scheme announced by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs to help workers save their income for resettlement and retirement.

The UAE fund, India's first overseas scheme, was approved in January by the government.

Under the plan, holders of Emigration Check Required (ECR) passports - those who have not passed Grade 10 - will be eligible for pension benefits, return and resettlement savings, and life insurance.

The ministry will also contribute to the pension and resettlement funds.

Subscribers must contribute a minimum of 5,000 Indian rupees (Dh329), with the ministry's contributions varying depending on gender.

Total savings will be between 6,900 and 7,900 Indian rupees a year.

Benefits will be provided for five years or the period of overseas employment, whichever is less.

Two pension enrolment offices, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai, will be set up to receive applications.

The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi says about one million in the UAE will benefit from the scheme. There are about two million Indian expatriates in the country, 60 per cent of whom are labourers.

Between 40 and 50 per cent of Indians in the UAE hold ECR passports. Those aged between 18 and 50 are eligible for the scheme.

The Indian ambassador, MK Lokesh, said a team from the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) in Dubai had been visiting labour camps across the country to make an assessment of the numbers eligible and offer information.

The Bank of Baroda, the only Indian bank fully operational in the UAE, has been chosen as a partner in the scheme.

"So we are discussing the enrolment strategies with the bank and the IWRC as well as how to assist workers with the paperwork," Mr Lokesh said.

Atul Kumar Tiwari, joint secretary at the ministry, said the programme has so far been launched only in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

"We started in Kochi in May 2012 and last month we started the enrolment process there," Mr Tiwari said.

Vayalar Ravi, the minister of overseas Indian affairs, will visit the Emirates this month to officially open the enrolment centres, Mr Lokesh said.

Brochures, videos and pamphlets will be distributed among workers to educate them on the pension plan.

Mr Tiwari said there had been meetings with employers, foreign-exchange houses, the IWRC and the bank to figure out the most effective and convenient way for workers to take part.

Workers have been warned not to pay cash to anyone before or after joining the scheme.