Thiruvananthapuram, May 27 (IANS) The new Kerala government should immediately commission a study on the impact of depressed oil prices on the remittances from the state’s diaspora around the world, an expert has said.
Despite oil prices falling for nearly two years, nothing has been done to study the impact of it on Kerala, S. Irudayarajan, who heads the migration department at the Centre for Development Studies (CSDS) here, told IANS.
“The only report that is there is from the World Bank that says remittances to India have come down in the last financial year as compared to the year before. But no one knows the overall situation in Kerala,” said Irudayarajan.
“The need of the hour is for the new government to appoint a team of experts to look into remittances, return migration and migration,” he said.
“Unless a scientific study is done, no one will be able to suggest remedial measures. A report can be made ready in a matter of six months and only on it should the government act.”
The oil industry has been in its deepest downturn since the 1990s leading to decommissioning of rigs, cut in investment in exploration and production, bankruptcies and loss of jobs.
The price of a barrel of oil at one point fell more than 70 percent compared with June 2014 levels when it was above US$ 100 a barrel.
Brent crude, the main international benchmark, was trading at about $49 a barrel on Friday.
Irudayarajan said there is a migrant in one out of every five households in Kerala, which shows how heavily the state is dependent on emigration and remittances.
“About 90 per cent of the Kerala diaspora is in the Middle-East and given the issues in those countries of reserving jobs for nationals, the proposed study should also look into new countries where the state’s skilled labour can go to.”
He said there could be nothing like “quick action” and one must act after finding out the problem.
Ninety per cent of Kerala’s 23.63 lakhs diaspora are in the Middle-East countries, of which UAE accounts for 38.7 percent of the state’s emigrants followed by Saudi Arabia which has 25.2 per cent, notes Irudayarajan.
The non-residents’ deposits in Kerala banks touched Rs.1,27,997 crore, up from Rs 1,17,349 crore as on June 30th 2015, according to the latest State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) report.