Soon after Oscar Fernandes took charge of the labour ministry, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation has convened a meeting of central board of trustees (CBT) on January 13 to decide on the interest rate for 2013-14, likely to be at least 8.5% considering the higher returns from bonds this year and the mounting pressure to appease workers ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The executive committee of the CBT is scheduled to meet on January 10 following the board’s reconstitution with new members and Fernandes’ taking charge as labour minister, who also heads the CBT. The CBT will meet on January 13 to take up the pending agenda, EPFO said in an internal circular.
After Sis Ram Ola's demise, the government wasted no time to give road transport minister Oscar Fernandes additional charge of the labour ministry as crucial policy decisions, including fixing the EPF rate for 2013-14, were pending.
EPFO sources said the fund may offer an interest rate slightly higher than the 8.5% provided last year as elections are nearing and given the higher returns from bonds this year. Even after offering a tad higher than 8.5%, the EPFO may end up with a small surplus, an official said.
Fernandes, who handled the labour ministry during UPA-I tenure, also has to work out an amicable solution for offering a minimum pension of R1,000 per month to EPS subscribers as it has been demanded by trade unions.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh has already asked a group of ministers headed by AK Antony and comprising ministers of the finance and labour ministies to arrive at some concrete steps on the minimum pension.