Now EPFO’s over 5 crore members need not necessarily have Aadhaar numbers to avail the benefits of PF body’s schemes as these are excluded from Centre’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) programme.
“The schemes under EPFO and ESIC have been excluded from the list schemes identified for implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer,” a Labour Ministry letter to EPFO’s Central Provident Fund Commissioner stated.
Subsequently, the EPFO head office issued an office order to discontinue submission of monthly report on the progress of the work under the DBT scheme by regional offices.
At present, the money is transferred through NEFT and cheques. The scheme was excluded from the DBT scheme mainly because it was for distributing subsidies and grants and PF money is not a subsidy, an official explained.
Earlier this year in January, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has asked the field staff to ensure the collection of data (Aadhaar) in respect of member joining on or after March 1, 2013 on a monthly basis and in respect of existing members by June 30, 2013.
According to the office order issued then, in case an employee does not have the Aadhaar number, the employer can issue an Enrolment Id (EID) as per the guidelines of the body.
This EID would be converted into Aadhaar number later on, the order had said. The body had also decided to seek the Aadhaar numbers of its pensioners through the banks.
Later in February this year, after drawing flak from unionist for the move, the PF body decided to put on hold the decision to make it mandatory for new members joining EPF scheme to provide Aadhaar number as credential for enrolment from March 1, 2013.
The EPFO order circulated in February had observed that getting the Aadhaar was a time consuming process and the (UIDAI) scheme covers only 18 states.
The remaining states are covered by the Register General of India under the National Population Register which would be digital database of country’s residents.
EPFO had envisaged replacing members’ account numbers with their Aadhaar numbers to avoid inconvenience to people as they had to apply for transfer of PF money to new accounts while changing jobs.
Now, EPFO is working on creating a central data base where all members would have a permanent account number and would not require to transfer PF accounts.
Besides, this will help EPFO members, particularly construction workers, who often change their jobs or contractors.
However in the meantime, the body is about the start centralised online clearance of provident fund transfer and withdrawal claims. This will allow members to apply online for the purpose and onus of verification of the detail of applicants would be on EPFO.