EPFO subscribers may be allowed to invest more in equity markets in 2019

Subscribers of the retirement fund body EPFO may get an option in the new year to invest more of their savings in the equity market, besides a host of other social security benefits and digital tools to manage their funds. 

At present, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) invests up to 15 per cent of its investible deposits into the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and so far such investments total about Rs 550 billion. 

However, the ETF investments do not reflect in members' account and they do not have an option to increase the proportion of their retirement savings to be invested into stocks. 

The EPFO is now developing a software that would help show retirement savings in cash and ETFs components separately. At present, the account only shows the savings as gross cash component. 

Once the cash and ETF components are shown separately in the EPF accounts, the next big leap for the EPFO would be to give an option to subscribers to increase or decrease investments in stocks.

Earlier this year, the EPFO's apex decision-making body, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), had suggested exploring the possibility of giving such options.

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar who is also chairman of the CBT told PTI, "By introducing numerous digital tools, the service levels for workers as well as employers have been eased a lot." 

"By way of supplementing the employer's share of contribution at the rate of 12 per cent, a good number of approximately 9 million new employees are extended the benefit of social security net through the EPFO," he said.

Under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY), the Government of India is now paying full employer's contribution (EPF and EPS both) with effect from April 1, 2018, for a period of three years to the new employees as well as to the existing beneficiaries for their remaining period of three years.

In 2018, a pensioners' portal was also launched through which all EPFO pensioners can get details of pension-related information.

The EPFO presently covers 190 industries (mentioned in Schedule 1 of the EPF Act) with over 200 million accounts in over 1.13 million covered establishments.

For the EPFO's 6.32 million pensioners, 5.53 million Jeevan Praman have been received as on October 29, 2018, and 4.94 million have been approved.  

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