EPFO seeks govt guarantee for investing 15 pc funds in stocks

"Our Board of Trustees felt investments in the capital market are unsafe and do not serve well for someone like us who want very stable returns," Central Provident Fund Commissioner Samirendra Chatterjee told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by AK Capital Services here. "If they want us to invest, please give us a guarantee for the same, we will invest," he added.

Citing revised regulations, the Ministry of Finance has been asserting that it has the right to prescribe investment patterns for retirement funds and has been repeatedly asking for up to 15 per cent of the EPFO corpus to be invested in equities.

However, Chatterjee said the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) goes by the rules drafted in 2003 and not the revised ones made in 2008. The funds under management by the EPFO swelled by Rs 25,000 crore in the first half of the current fiscal to Rs 3,25,000 crore, he said.

The EPFO and company-run PF trusts are currently allowed to invest only in secure investments like bonds and government securities that give a stable return.

"I work for the common man... a fall in stocks is not infrequent and how can I explain to a person that his investment corpus has fallen? Such things work well for mutual funds who run on net asset values, not for us," Chatterjee said.

On the zero interest to inoperative accounts policy to be implemented from May, 2011, he said the trust expects withdrawals of up to Rs 10,000 crore by "savvy" investors that have locked in huge chunks for guaranteed, tax-free returns.

"We have Rs 15,000 crore in inoperative accounts and I expect withdrawals of up to Rs 10,000 crore by savvy investors. Some of these accounts have contributions up to Rs 25 lakh," the commissioner added.

According to a new policy that will come into effect from May, 2011, accounts that are inoperative for more than three years will not earn any interest.

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