The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has decided to issue individual account numbers to its members that will function independent of their employers.
“Most workers today are on a contract basis and change jobs every three to four years, resulting in multiple provident fund accounts,” a senior PF official said, adding that most of the EPFO’s total workload currently involves transfer or settlement of PF claims. Of the nearly 1 crore claims the EPFO receives every year, about 90 lakh pertain to transfer or settlement of accounts.
The issue came up for discussion ,when the EPFO’s Central Board of Trustees (CBT) met. Though it was not listed on the agenda for discussion, sources said Central PF Commissioner RC Mishra announced that the EPFO would try to give all its 6.15 crore subscribers individual account numbers by March 31, 2013. “This is especially important for contractual workers or those in the construction industry. It will also help improve the functioning of the EPFO,” Mishra said after the meeting.
“Not only is there an immense amount of pressure on us, but also the very objective of social security is lost as most members choose to withdraw their savings from old PF accounts,” the official pointed out. Initial calculations reveal that a worker earning Rs 5,000 per month can earn a pension of Rs 2,100 per month after 25 years through the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS).
“Compared to the mere Rs 200 or Rs 300 people get as pension now due to multiple accounts, Rs 2,100 is a good amount,” the official said. The EPFO is now planning to latch on to the Unique Identification Authority of India. Under the plan, UID will be used as a platform for issuing individual account numbers. The EPFO will start off the project by converting all existing account numbers into centralised numbers. As and when subscribers get UID numbers, it will merge all his multiple PF accounts into one account. An investment of Rs 200 crore is understood to have been outlined for this exercise.