New Delhi: The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is readying a Rs.33 crore war chest to fight a perception among its customers that it is a stodgy and archaic body despite its efforts to project a modern front.
The attempted image makeover will include social media management by professionals, radio jingles and advertisements in both print and television.
“EPFO in the last one and a half years has done a lot of work to become user friendly. But that message has not reached its stakeholders,” said a government official, with knowledge of the development.
There is huge “misunderstanding” regarding the functioning of EPFO in a section of the government and public. Even the finance ministry “was not briefed well by some about the role of EPFO”, the official said. In fact, finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his 2015-16 budget speech that “it has been remarked that both EPF and ESI (employees’ state insurance) have hostages, rather than clients”.
“The positioning needs to be changed. While the National Pension System is doing a lot of publicity, EPFO is largely immune to it so far. What we need to do is reach out to the masses. A plan has already been approved,” said the official.
Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who is also the chairman of the EPFO board, wrote to the retirement fund manager on 2 June that a “detailed agenda” for publicity in EPFO with “budgetary provision” may be brought before the central board of trustees or CBT of the EPFO. Mint has seen a copy of the minister’s letter.
So how will Rs.33 crore be spent? EPFO will spend Rs.7 crore on newspaper advertisements, Rs.12 crore on television and radio advertisements, Rs.5 crore for outdoor campaigns and Rs.3 crore for social media management, according to a ministry note, reviewed by Mint. The rest of the amount will be spent for other publicity material, including mass mailing by the government to customers.
EPFO feels its initiatives such as the Universal Account Number, online provident fund number portability and transfer claim process, the internet grievance management system, online registration of establishments can be publicized for a better outcome as well as an image makeover. EPFO has an active subscriber base of over 40 million and manages more than Rs.8.5 trillion in retirement savings.
While its advertisement campaign was finalized in consultation with the government’s Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity or DAVP, its social media campaign will be managed by Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd, an enterprise under the ministry of information and broadcasting.
The labour ministry note said that the Union government of late is “profusely using social media for citizen engagement. MOL&E (ministry of labour and employment) and its constituents have been advised to use the medium to effectively connect with citizens”.