With the pension scheme for the retired seafarers and widows set to expire in November, seafarers keep their fingers crossed over the fate of the scheme, throwing up questions about whether the government would honour its promise to make it permanent or give it another extension.
Sources in the know, however, said that the office of the NRI Commissioner has submitted the file to the Home department to make the Goa Welfare/Pension scheme, 2021 permanent.
Sources further informed that State Home Secretary Sanjit Rodrigues is seized of the matter and is likely to hold an exercise with representatives of seafarers to discuss their issues.
Sources stated that Sanjit is likely to discuss issues involving the deduction of funds from the seafarers by the shipping companies and the unions and whether the seafaring community is provided with welfare benefits.
The Goan understands that after the NRI Affairs office submitted the file to the Home department to make the scheme permanent, the government is toying with the idea of disbursing the pension through the Social Welfare department.
An official, however, hastened to add that the NRI Affairs office will continue to run the scheme since the office is looking after the interest of the seafaring community.
An official pointed out that the scheme may be made permanent after the government assured in the Assembly when Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas had tabled a resolution. “The government has not yet decided whether the pensionary benefits will be provided to the beneficiaries through the social welfare department. However, the scheme will continue to be run by the office of NRI Affairs,” the officer said.
Luizinho submits demands of seafaring community Director General of Shipping
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Luizinho Faleiro has submitted the charter of demands of the seafaring community to the Director General of Shipping and other Ministers demanding among other things Income Tax-free to all Indian seafarers working on Indian and foreign going vessels.
In a letter dashed off to Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar, Luizinho further demanded pension or monetary assistance for all retiring and retired Indian seafarers.
Other demands included a shorter contract period for seafarers (ratings) seven months plus or minus one month, 2GB free internet access per month on board the ship, flight tickets up to hometown while signing off, consider providing double overtime if working on holidays and Sundays, make medical plan/benefits for seafarers more transparent.The charter of demands had further drawn the attention of the DG, Shipping to the appointment of Seafarer Relation Officer (SRO) by every RPSL company and solving unemployment and the GAP between demand and supply.
Faleiro told a delegation of the Goan Seamen Association of India that he had raised in Rajya Sabha the issue of problems and difficulties faced by the seafarers and their families working in the shipping industry in the country.