August 3, 2016 12:38:30 am
The government has not diverted workers’ money from Employees’ Provident Fund to stock markets but has invested it in funds that are safe and profitable, Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday. He added the government was moving with a “cautious approach” and that the returns were “positive and encouraging”.
He was replying to a calling attention motion moved by Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who demanded that the government give a minimum guarantee while investing money from EPF in the stock market.
Responding to the charge by Opposition members that the government was “gambling” with the hard-earned money of workers and had ignored the objections of all trade unions, the minister said the government was pro-worker and not anti-worker.
He said Patel’s allegation was “totally incorrect”. “There is no question of diverting funds. This government is pro-poor, pro-worker and pro-progressive…We have made [investments] in Exchange Traded Funds and not in share markets,” said Dattatreya.
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Citing returns in other countries where similar investments have been made, the minister said, “World over this pattern is giving positive returns. These funds (equity funds) are generally for 10 years or more period, so that’s why this will give encouragement in a positive direction and in a profitable manner.”
Dattatreya gave a breakup: “Of the total amount, 75 per cent is being investment in Nifty and the remaining 25 per cent in BSE. In Nifty there are 50 baskets and in the BSE, 30 baskets. The funds are not invested in individual shares,” he said. According to the minister, the amount invested so far is Rs 7,468 crore and its current market value is Rs 8,024 crore, which translates to an interest of 7.45 per cent.
Stating that the minister’s reply was “not satisfactory”. Patel said Dattatreya had not clarified on his question of a minimum guarantee from the government. He added, “The minister has also not replied on T K Rangarajan’s (CPI-M) question on how can they invest a worker’s contribution without taking his or her consent.”
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