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EPFO move to ‘give’ workers’ money to private firms decried

Special Correspondent



Beginning of a process of privatisation of workers and employees’ savings: CPI(M)

BJP: economic prize given to private firms for the kind of politics nation saw in past 15 days



NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party have opposed the decision of the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Organisation to “hand over” huge amounts of workers’ Provident Fund contributions to finance companies for speculative purposes in the stock exchange.

By this decision, around Rs. 2,40,000 crore in the corpus fund and another Rs. 30,000 crore of the annual incremental fund would be literally gifted to the corporates, a CPI(M) Polit Bureau statement issued here on Wednesday said.

The Board on Tuesday allowed HSBC, ICICI Prudential and Reliance Capital to manage its funds along with the State Bank of India for higher returns.

“While the companies can make profits, there is no guarantee of minimum returns to the workers. Thus, the savings of workers over years of hard work can be wiped out through speculation,” the statement said.

The decision reversed a hard won gain of the working classes over years of struggle for a minimum guaranteed return on their contribution, post-retirement.

The statement said:

``This decision marks the beginning of a process of privatisation of workers and employees’ savings which was strongly opposed by the CPI(M), which had ensured that the United Progressive Alliance government did not go ahead with this anti-worker policy.

“Even now, the decision was pushed through in the most undemocratic way in spite of the opposition by the majority of workers representatives.”

The reported late selection of Reliance Capital was an indication of the cost of support to this tainted government, it added.

Extends support

The Polit Bureau has extended its support to the protest struggles against this decision by workers and employees.

It demanded that the government refrain from implementing this anti-worker decision.

CPI national secretary D. Raja said the issue would be taken up in Parliament and the trade unions would lodge their protest against it during the nationwide general strike on August 20.

Bitter quarrel

“This was one issue we had been fighting over with the government. We had a bitter quarrel with the United Progressive Alliance but now they have thrown the National Common Minimum Programme into the dustbin to pursue their neo-liberal agenda that has nothing to do with aam admi,” he said.

The BJP too criticised the decision. It described it as the “economic prize being given to private companies for the kind of politics the country saw in the past 15 days.”

Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters that the government must come clean on why it was necessary to take away work from State Bank of India and wondered whether it was the beginning of allowing this fund being invested in the stock market.

He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States had lost their money to private fund managers.

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