EPFO interest rate could be higher than 8.25 pc: Kharge

NEW DELHI, May 1: Retirement fund body EPFO’s interest rate for its over 50 million subscribers for this fiscal could be higher than 8.25 per cent provided during 2011-12, Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today said.

“Suppose if our income goes up, it may be beyond 8.25 per also,” Kharge told reporters when asked whether EPFO has decided to pay 8.6 per cent rate this fiscal.

The minister said: “We will distribute interest (among subscribers) based on our income…This is what I said in Rajya Sabha. We will see what our total revenue is and based on that what can we give”.

A section of the media had reported last week that the EPFO has decided to pay 8.6 per cent rate of return this fiscal to its account holders, based on the minister’s reply to a debate on labour issues in the Rajya Sabha.

The minister explained that he had spoken about the 8.6 per cent rate of return in the context of the government’s decision to increase rate of return on the Special Deposit Scheme (SDS).

EPFO has parked about Rs 55,000 crore in the SDS. Its total corpus is around Rs 3 lakh crore.

There was a hue and cry when EPFO last month slashed the interest rate on PF deposits to 8.25 per cent for 2011-12 from 9.5 per cent in 2010-11.

As per practice, the rate of return on PF deposits is announced by the EPFO’s apex decision making body, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), headed by the Labour Minister.

The CBT’s decision on the interest rate is based on EPFO’s income projections for a financial year. The decision is finally implemented after the Finance Ministry’s concurrence. (PTI)


Thousands join May Day rally in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, May 1: Thousands of workers today joined May Day rally in the summer capital, Srinagar, under the banner of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

The Anganwadi workers and Helpers, ASHA workers, Power Development Department (PDD) daily wagers, Horticulture Non-Gazatted Employees Union, Agriculture daily wagers and casual workers union, CITU Unit of Kishan Ganga Power Project, floriculture casual labourers union, SKICC employees union, Aircel Land Oustee and Security Guards Workers Union’, J&K medical and Sales Representatives association and other unions gathered at S K park near here to observe ‘May Day’.

The activists later took to streets. However, after marching through different streets from S K Park, they were stopped by police at Regal Chowk.

They were carrying banners, placards and shouting slogans demanding concrete measures to contain price-rise, creation of employment, strict enforcement of all basic labour laws, social security for toilers, no contractorisation of work of permanent or perennial nature, Amendment of Minimum Wages Act and fixation of statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 10000 per month, Assured pension for all.

They were also shouting slogans in support of the demands of ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and helpers, casual labourers working in different departments and daily wagers, besides sections of workers belonging to unorganised sectors.

CITU State President Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, while addressing the rally at Regal Chowk said ‘the woes of labourers, who are engineers of economic prosperity, are on the increase.’

The CITU State President said the International Labour Day drew its history from the Chicago martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the struggle to regulate working hours, create conducive working conditions and for a dignified life.

The struggle continues despite odds for creating a world which is livable and is free from exploitation and oppression.

He underlined the necessity for wider unity among the working people for reversing the disastrous neo-liberal economic policies. No room for any illusion, only united struggles of the toilers can force the government and employers to concede the genuine demands of the working people.

The other CITU leaders, who also addressed the workers said the social security benefits like pension, provident fund and health insurance are hard won rights of the working class secured through decades of struggle.

These gains are now being reversed through privatisation of pension funds, provident funds and cuts in subsidies and welfare benefits and such measures being implemented across the world today specifically target the social security benefits in order to pass on the burden of the economic crisis to the working people.

While reiterating their demand for implementation of the basic labour laws in the state they stressed to amend the Minimum Wages Act and fixation of statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 10000 per month.

The speakers observed that the subsidies on food, fuel and fertilisers meant for the common man is targeted to be brought down to the mere 1.75% of GDP, while as 5% of GDP is being provided for tax defaulters and moneyed class. (UNI)


Abu Azmi convicted for hate speech

MUMBAI, May 1: A Magistrate’s court has convicted the president of Maharashtra unit of Samajwadi Party Abu Asim Azmi for making a provocative speech at a rally in 2000.

Metropolitan magistrate Sanjayshree Gharat of Mazgaon court sentenced him to two-years imprisonment and fined him Rs 11,000.

However, the Magistrate yesterday gave him 30 days to appeal to the sessions court.

Mr Azmi was convicted under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (a) for promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code.

Reacting to the judgement, a spokesperson of the party’s legal cell said, “government sanction is needed to prosecute under section 153. It was not given in the case of others, but in Mr. Azmi’s case the government gave sanction. (UNI)



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