The Union Government has formed four ad-hoc board-level committees to look into the functioning of different aspects of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), including IT, communications and pension.
Union Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav, who chairs the Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO that manages about ₹15 lakh crore of retirement savings, approved the formation of these panels. All the committees, notified on November 27, have been granted a tenure of three months.
Labour Secretary Sunil Barthwal has been tasked with steering two of the committees — on ‘pension reforms’ and ‘IT and Communications’. Mr. Barthwal was in charge of the EPFO as the Central PF Commissioner (CPFC) till late September.
As per its terms of reference, the eight-member panel on pension reforms had been told to submit a report advising ‘on matters relating to pension reforms for universalisation of social security’. An EPFO official pointed out that the mandate of this particular panel is ‘unusual and unclear’ as a board-level committee already exists for reviewing and improving the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of 1995.
The EPS is the pension scheme administered by the EPFO, where a part of monthly EPF contributions deducted from employees’ salaries is diverted. The Pension and EDLI (Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance) Implementation Committee is usually headed by the CPFC.
The ad-hoc committee on IT and Communications has 10 members, including three representatives each from employers and employee unions. The panel has been asked to suggest ‘IT measures to improve service delivery’ for EPFO members, build capacity of EPFO’s IT personnel and ‘effective media and communication with stakeholders’.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Rameswar Teli has been appointed as chair of the two other committees.
One of them pertains to EPFO’s internal human resources and establishment matters while the other is tasked with finding ways to enhance EPFO’s coverage and reducing related litigation.
The proceedings of the human resources committee will also be closely watched after the hasty appointments and transfers for almost 120 senior officials in July.