The countrys largest retirement fund manager the EPFO,which manages retirement savings of over 4.71 crore members,was able to settle just about 58 per cent of all claims it received in 2010-11 within a period of 30 days.
The poor performance record goes against the Bill of Right of Employees that mandates the Employees Provident Fund Organisation to clear all claims for partial or complete withdrawal within 30 days.
Data compiled by the EPFO reveals that of the 1,05,22,750 claims for withdrawal and settlement it received in 2010-11,just 41,55,329 or 57.33 per cent were processed in the mandated one-month period. The EPFO took anywhere between 31 days to over one year to clear the remaining 30,92,982 claims and had another 7,17,612 claims pending with it as on March 31,2011. It also rejected 24 per cent of all claims that were filed with it.
On a zonal level,the EPFOs track record is even more uncertain. The zonal office,in charge of Delhi and Uttarakhand,was the worst performer,clearing just 38 per cent of all claims within 30 days,while the Karnataka and Goa zone processed 46.19 per cent of claims in the period. Meanwhile,regions like Punjab,Haryana,Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were able to clear over 80 per cent claims within one month.
Significantly,the EPFO until recently did not have a centralised database containing account information of its subscribers. Even data at its regional offices was not complete and was often at variance with that available at the sub-regional office.
As part of an internal exercise to compile data on claim settlements,the EPFO has now asked regional PF commissioners to ensure the veracity of information so that data at the regional,sub-regional and national level match up. EPFO officials are hopeful that with computerisation of all its offices,the tedious process of settling claims will gather speed.
Since all the data will be available online,our staff should have no excuse to delay processing claims, said an official. The organisation has also started initiatives such as electronic transfer of funds and PF accounts that has helped speed up the process of withdrawals within the mandated 30-day period.
But field offices have been offering different excuses for the inordinate delay in settling claims to its subscribers. In response to an RTI application filed by a Delhi based chartered accountant Akshay Malhotra,the field offices blamed the delay to reasons such as renovation of offices,shortage of staff,heavy workload,deputation of staff on election and census duty,manual settlement of claims.