Cutting across party lines, central trade unions including RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Tuesday raised strong objections to the government’s decision to take the money out of inoperative EPF accounts, estimated at Rs 45,000 crore, to finance the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund.
Stating that the money belongs to the subscribers who could ask for it at any point of time, union members walked out of the EPFO’s Central Board of Trustees (CBT) meeting as soon as the notification for creating the fund was distributed. They staged a demonstration in the parking area of the retirement fund body’s head office here.
CBT is the highest decision-making body of the EPFO and is headed by labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya.
The Finance Act, 2015, stipulates the creation of the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund from any credit balance remaining unclaimed for a period of 7 years from the date of declaration as an inoperative account under the small savings, public provident fund or any other scheme. The exercise shall be carried out annually and the transfer would be on net basis.
As Central provident Fund Commissioner (CPFC) V P Joy’s efforts to dissuade the union members from protesting failed, Dattatreya came down to appease them. However, the Union minister had to face a lot of flak from the union representatives who suggested that as the CBT chairman, he should honour his duty as the custodian of the fund.
“We welcome the creation of the fund, but taking away the money forcibly is akin to dacoity. They should use the government money,” said BMS general secretary Brijesh Upadhyay. INTUC national vice-president Ashok Singh said: “We are all with the government in matters pertaining to development. But why are they using the poor man’s money for creation of such funds?”
CITU chief A K Padmanabhan said: “The fundamental issue is not whether there would be any claimant or not, but the taking away of the money. The money belongs to the worker and the government does not have any right to take it away.” FE