Labour panel to probe EPFO functioning and ESIC corpus fund

Topics EPFO

The parliamentary standing committee on labour has decided to probe the functioning of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), including management of its corpus fund.

The committee has decided to look into the “functioning of the EPFO” at a time when an internal audit conducted by the EPFO has thrown up major discrepancies in the way it has been managing the provident fund accounts and settling dues.

All department related parliamentary standing committees have to select “subjects” they will study, including making on the spot visits and asking stakeholders to appear before it, over the course of the year. The committee on labour, constituted earlier this month, along with 23 other department-related parliamentary committees, looks at the functioning of the ministries of labour, skill development and entrepreneurship and textile.

For 2019-20, six-term Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Lok Sabha MP Bhartruhari Mahtab is the chair of the committee. 

In its first meeting on September 20 and subsequent one on September 27, the committee selected 18 subjects of the labour ministry, 10 of textiles ministry and six of the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship to study in 2019-20.

Of the 18 subjects of the labour ministry, the committee has also decided to study the “applicability of ESI scheme, benefits provided under the scheme, with special emphasis on their improvement, financing and administrative responsibility, including management of corpus fund”.

Other subjects it will study include “working conditions and welfare of mine workers, and assessment of working of Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS)”, “deployment of contract/casual/sanitation workers for jobs of perennial nature in government/PSU offices/establishments”, “status of and welfare measures for workers deployed by outsourced agencies/companies” and welfare of plantation workers.

Interestingly, the labour committee has also decided to study the “implementation of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS)” at a time when several state governments, particularly non-BJP-ruled state governments, have complained about the Centre reducing allocations for these schemes. 

The 15th Finance Commission is also looking at cutting number of such schemes.

Among other subjects selected, the committee will make an “assessment of present categories of scheduled employment”, “effective implementation of labour laws concerning the welfare of contract/casual labour”, “status of implementation of social security measures for workers in IT and telecommunication sectors like BPOs/call centres” and “implementation of prescribed minimum wages in scheduled employment sector”. It will also study “social security and welfare measures for workers in unorganized and informal sectors” and “safeguards and measures for protecting the interest of overseas workers”, particularly in West Asia.

It has selected 10 subjects to study in the ministry of textiles, including development and promotion of jute industry, skill development in relation to manufacturing and upgrade in the sector, cotton and silk sectors, performance of marketing agencies of handlooms and handicrafts and functioning of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).

In the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, it will study the performance of the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana, functioning of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), implementation of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) and implementation of Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Project.

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