Retirement fund body EPFO has made equity investment of Rs 7,715 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal, Parliament was informed on Monday. The EPFO can invest up to 15 per cent of investment in equity as per the Pattern of Investment notified by the central government and the internal guidelines of the EPFO approved by the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), Employees' Provident Fund (EPF).
The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has invested Rs 7,715 crore in equity till June 30 in 2021-22, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Rameshwar Teli stated in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. However, the minister added that the EPFO invests only in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through ETF manufacturers (SBI-Mutual Fund and UTI-Mutual Fund) and not in individual shares.
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A joint representation was received from some trade unions on involving workers in the decision making process while investing in equity. Finance Investment and Audit Committee (FIAC) and the Central Board of Trustees of EPFO, which are mandated for investing in equities and other instruments, have representatives of workers.
The equity investment of the EPFO was Rs 31,025 crore in 2020-21, Rs 32,377 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 27,743 crore in 2018-19. The minister also stated that the EPFO has received Rs 57,846 crore as contribution from its subscribers in the first quarter of this fiscal (April-June 2021).
The body had received Rs 2,18,345 crore contribution from its subscribers in 2020-21. It was Rs 2,19,325 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 1,87,214 crore in 2018-19. In another reply, the minister said as on July 26, 2021, benefit of Rs 1,193.18 crore has been provided to 25.57 lakh employees through 91,129 establishments under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojna (ABRY).
The ABRY has been extended up to March 2022. It was launched with effect from October 1, 2020 to incentivise employers for creation of new employment along with social security benefits and restoration of loss of employment during COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme aims to benefit estimated 71.80 lakh people. This scheme, being implemented through the EPFO, reduces financial burden on employers in various sectors like MSMEs and encourages them to hire more workers.
Under ABRY, the Government of India is bearing for a period of two years, both the employees' and employers' share (12 per cent of wages each) of EPF contribution payable or only the employees' share, depending on employment strength of the EPFO registered establishments. In another reply, the minister said, "As on July 27, 2021, over 45 lakhs workers (including bulk enrolment) have been enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana (PM-SYM)."
Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) is the fund manager of the scheme. The PM-SYM is a pension scheme for unorganised sector workers.