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Issues related to minimum pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme are likely to be reviewed during the meeting.
Issues related to minimum pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme are likely to be reviewed during the meeting.

Labour panel to probe pension corpus, benefit to workers

The committee will discuss ways to make EPFO more fruitful for the working class—both organized and unorganized

The parliamentary committee on labour is set to scrutinize the 10 trillion corpus under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and the performance of the fund management, including its investment decisions.

This is the first issue the committee is taking up since its reconstitution last month. At its meeting on Wednesday, the committee also plans to look at ways to make EPFO more fruitful for the working class both organized and unorganized, said three people with knowledge of the move.

“There has been no scrutiny of the EPFO and the fund management of the corpus of 10 trillion in the past one year. Since fund managers have now started investments in the stock markets, we want to assess the performance of these schemes," said the first person aware of the matter.

The parliamentary committee on labour has invited representatives of the ministry of labour who are expected to first discuss the issues among themselves, before multiple meetings are held between the two sides. The committee members will also assess the impact of EPFO during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus and the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the retirement fund manager.

The Union government aims to provide old age protection and social security to unorganized workers, mainly rickshaw pullers, street vendors, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, agricultural and construction workers, handloom workers, and people working in the leather industry, through the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana (PM-SYMY), an ambitious scheme of the Centre.

“EPFO was earlier only for the organized sector but the Union government has extended it to the unorganized sector also. The management of the fund is a cause of concern for the members of the parliamentary committee and it was unanimously decided to take it up for discussion. We plan to finish the series of meetings and submit a detailed report in the winter session of Parliament," as per the second person with information on the development.

Members of the standing committee have also asked the representatives of the ministry of labour to look at the provisions made for organized and unorganized sector workers in other countries and the panel is expected to take it up for discussion on Wednesday.

According to people aware of the developments, members of the panel are keen on raising a series of issues related to EPF and pension schemes, including raising the minimum pension money under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) and ensuring better access of funds to families in case of the death of an account holder.

“We have been demanding that the minimum pension under the EPS scheme be raised to 5,000 monthly payment. This is a demand that several trade unions and labour organizations have also been making for a while. We were told that it has been decided to give 2,000 monthly but we feel the amount should increase," another person aware of the developments said requesting anonymity.

“There were some cases in the Supreme Court and state courts such as in Kerala over capping the salaries at 15,000 for quantifying pensions. People want more pensions and for that they are ready to also contribute. However, 15,000 is the ceiling and there is no room for flexibility. We want to raise this issue in the committee as well," the person mentioned above said.

gyan.v@livemint.com

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