Employees provident fund (EPF) members withdrew Rs 39,402.94 crore between March 25 and August 31 from their retirement savings, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. The government had imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 25, to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Members of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) were also allowed relaxation in March regarding withdrawal of their funds to mitigate financial difficulties posed by the pandemic. The maximum amount of EPF withdrawals from March 25 to August 31 were recorded in Maharashtra at Rs 7,837.85 crore, followed by Karnataka at Rs 5,743.96 crore and Tamil Nadu (including Puducherry) at Rs 4,984.51 crore.
Total EPF withdrawals in Delhi during the period stood at Rs 2,940.97 crore, followed by Telangana Rs 2,619 crore, and Haryana Rs 2,220 crore. This data pertains to total withdrawals for various reasons, including on account of the new pandemic withdrawal provision.
The government had, in March, allowed millions of EPFO subscribers to withdraw a portion of their retirement savings amid the Covid-19 lockdown. As per the relaxation provided to cope with financial difficulties, EPFO subscribers can withdraw 75 per cent of their savings or up to a maximum of three months’ basic pay and dearness allowance, whichever is lower. Subscribers are currently allowed to withdraw their PFs for house construction, marriage and education of children, illness and unemployment.
During April-August 2020, the EPFO settled 94.41 lakh claims worth Rs 35,445 crore. The claims were 32 per cent higher than that in April-August 2019, while the amount disbursed rose by around 13 per cent. During April-August 2020, 55 per cent of the advance claims settled were related to the Covid-19 advance, while around 31 per cent of advances settled during the period pertained to illness claims. Almost 75 per cent of Covid-19 advances and about 79 per cent of illness-related claims were settled for EPF subscribers earning less than Rs 15,000, the government had earlier said.
The scheme allowing advance withdrawal was notified on March 27 and the online withdrawal facility launched on March 29. The earlier withdrawal conditions allowed subscribers to take non-refundable advance or withdraw money before retirement for specified purposes. Also, subscribers who have been unemployed for more than a month can withdraw up to 75 per cent of their balance.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines