The decision by the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to stop paying interest on accounts that have not been operated for 36 months or more is expected to cover 60 per cent of the accounts. According to EPFO estimates, there were 30.5 million inoperative accounts across 120 offices. In all, the agency had 47.1 million subscribers at the end of March 2009, which is estimated to have increased during the last financial year. However, latest data on the total number of subscribers was not available.
In all, the agency estimated that Rs 15,416 crore was lying in inoperative accounts (see table).
While 85 per cent of the inoperative accounts have a balance of less than Rs 5,000, such accounts having less than Rs 1,000 are 51 per cent. The balance in some of these are as low as Rs 1 or Rs 2, but maintaining these accounts cost around Rs 100. EPFO said over 11 per cent of the inoperative accounts had less than Rs 100.
The low balance in inoperative accounts was the result of subscribers giving up on their jobs, while the ones with more funds may have been the result of members chosing to leave the balance and opting to open a new account while switching jobs.
|1 lakh-10 lakh||0.13||3550.28|
|Over 10 lakh||0.02||891.03|
|Calculations based on EPFO estimates|
“As long as someone is in employment, the employer pays a 1.1 per cent fee on the amount deducted. But the moment, the deduction stops, the fee also ends, as it cannot be levied on the employee. So, EPFO ends up spending money to keep the account running,” said an official.
Although one option was to levy an annual maintenance charge of Rs 100 on the inoperative accounts, EPFO has decided against it. Instead, yesterday, the Central Board of Trustees decided that from April 1, 2011, EPFO will stop paying interest for inoperative accounts from the 37th month. It was also decided that in case these accounts remain dormant and, if any member claims it, with proper identity, the balance in the account will be paid to the subscriber. Also, in case an establishment defaults in payment of contribution for 36 months, accounts would be made operative on payment of the dues and the interest on it.