The Finance Ministry, which had raised some queries on the Employees Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) ability to pay 9.5 per cent interest to about 5 crore PF subscribers, on Thursday finally approved the rate.

The total outgo due to the new interest rate to the EPFO will be around Rs.16,000 crore for 2010-11.

Union Labour Secretary P.C. Chathurvedi told The Hindu that the notification in this regard from the Finance Ministry was received by his Ministry. This was the first time the interest rate was hiked by 1 per cent to 9.5 from 8.5 that was given since 2005-06 to the PF subscribers, he said.

Central Provident Fund Commissioner Samirendra Chatterjee said the Central Board of Trustees raised the interest rate in September last after working out that about Rs.1,731 crore was lying in the interest suspense in the EPFO account books.

The calculations of EPFO was vindicated with the approval of the Finance Ministry for the new rate, he said adding that the EPFO was asked by the Finance Ministry to update the subscribers accounts within six months.

Meanwhile, on the Cabinet approval for the recommendations of the Wage Boards for Journalists and Other Employees of Newspapers/News Agencies, headed by Justice G.R. Majithia, Mr. Chathurvedi said the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministries had replied to the Cabinet note circulated by the Labour Ministry. “We have to receive comments from the Information and Broadcasting and Law and Justice Ministries.”

Mr. Chathurvedi hoped the comments might be received in the next two to three days and a clear picture on the Cabinet approval for the wage boards was expected by March-end. He refused to give details of the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministries feedback on the recommendations.

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