By Pramod Kumar
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) president, Shri Hasubhai Dave has alleged that continuous inaction on the part of Central Government in deciding the final rate of interest on provident fund is going to put the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) under heavy loss. In its recent standing committee meeting the EPFO has decided to pay the dues of those who are retiring now, at the present interim rate of 8.5 per cent. ?In the coming days if the government hikes the 8.5 per cent rate, the EPFO will have to pay the arrears to those who are being made payment now. It will also require extra postage, correspondence and bank charges,? said Shri Dave.
He said the deadlock in EPFO had increased for the last six months due to inaction on the part of the then chairman, Shishram Ola. The Central Provident Fund Commissioner, Ajay Singh, had also retired on October 31 and till today no fresh appointment has been made. The new Labour Minister, Shri Chandrashekhar Rao, too does not know much about the ministry and will require some time to understand the affairs. ?The situation is so bad that the Finance Ministry has not yet notified the amended rates of interest for the year 2002-03 and onwards. The notification must be issued forthwith,? he demanded.
He said, ?No Communist union, which was earlier demanding 12 per cent rate of interest, was serious about the 9.5 per cent rate of interest. However, they all know that the government will not give more than 8.5 per cent; they are not ready to accept it due to political reasons,? he said, adding that the BMS still stand by its demand of 12 per cent rate of interest.
Shri Dave said the EPFO had been losing its credibility over the time. ?Both membership and income have been decreasing and expenditure is increasing. The rate of interest on EPFO money, invested in different schemes, has also come down. There is substantial deficit on the Employees Family Pension Scheme also. The new chairman needs to take some concrete steps. What he needs to do immediately is to make recovery from employers, redress the disputes pending with the Tribunal and notify the extension of PF cover to the unorganised sector,? he said adding that the Special Deposit Schemes (SDS) that are closed now, should be reopened by the government. Shri Dave also demanded the constitution of new wage boards for working and non-working journalists, engineering, chemical industries and sugar and cement industries.