The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Organisation, Mangalore, has launched an interactive website ( www.epfmangalore.org ) that will help subscribers track their settlement and account details. The site was launched by the Central Provident Fund Commissioner K. Chandramouli on Wednesday.

The Mangalore Regional Office is the nodal centre for all the local offices in the State barring Bangalore and Peenya. This is the second regional provident fund office in the country, after Karnal in Haryana, to host a website for its account holders.

Addressing presspersons, Mr. Chandramouli said that the new website will act as a ready-reckoner for account holders as well as employers. The website will provide information on claim status, balance status, pensioners’ details and employers’ contribution status for the benefit of account holders.

However, at present only the claim settlement and account related information will be available. More features will be activated in around three months, said Mr. Chandramouli. He said that the website was a small component of an “ambitious” project to computerise all activities of the organisation in the coming months.

Pointing out that the recent drive will substantially reduce the processing time for claims and account statements, he said that the time taken for these processes is over 40 days now. “We hope to reduce this to 15 days or even less,” he said. A massive computer training programme is presently under way under with the help of thousands of social security assistants. A fresh batch of 2,382 social security assistants are also being recruited, he said.

Asked about the possibility of reallocating manpower resources since computerisation will considerably reduce work pressure, he said, “We are an organisation that is acutely short-staffed.” Even after computerisation, it will take a long time for the work load to get sanitised.

Rise of claims

The provident fund organisation has over four crore subscribers across the country and is faced with a steep increase in claims, said Mr. Chandramouli. He attributed this trend primarily to changed employment patterns and increase in job hopping by young professionals.

He said that over 99 lakh persons had encashed their accounts in 2008-09 as compared to 76 lakh during the previous year. He also said that such claims had increased in Tier I cities such as Bangalore which are major information technology and financial sector hubs and have suffered heavily with the economic downturn.

Investments

He also dismissed suggestions that the EPF organisation was under pressure from certain lobbies to invest its Rs. 2.58 lakh crore corpus funds in the share market. He said that the investments of the organisation were handled by four private fund managers who are controlled by a Central Board of Trustees (CBT). Pointing out that the organisation was only investing in stable financial instruments such as Government securities and State bonds, he said that CBT has not approved any move to invest in the share markets.

Describing the investment culture of the EPF organisation as “conservative” he said that the organisation had managed to stave off the financial crisis primarily because of this conservatism.