Demonetisation: Urgent need for more ATM machines
The Union Labour Ministry has requested the Finance Ministry for installing more mobile automated teller machines (ATMs) in areas like construction sites where there is workforce in large numbers. “Speedy implementation is necessary, for that even our ministry has reviewed, we have given instructions to all state governments and we are requesting the Union Finance Minister, to see that wherever there is large number of workforce, number of mobile-ATMs should be increased,” said Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya. He was speaking at a Conference on India’s Social Security Agreements, organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM)
“We have also requested the Union Finance Minister to give more priority to the workforce engaged in the unorganised sector in the upcoming Union Budget,” he added. The Minister informed that the Labour Ministry which already has social security agreements with about 19 countries, is working out such agreements with other countries.
“Our focus is now going to be on BRICS and SAARC countries as well since social security agreements are very-very important for migrant workers,” he stated. He said that his Ministry would accord more priority to the unorganised sector in terms of social security. “So far we have converted about five crore construction workers into organised workforce and now they will get ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) and EPFO benefits,” informed the Minister.
He also informed that the Labour Ministry would soon extend social security net for scheme workers including, anganwadi workers, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, mid-day meal workers and others.
“They have been working for about 28-30 years, they do not have any help or pension so there are two things – health coverage and pensions, these two things will be covered under social security,” said the Union Minister.
Highlighting the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s vision that even poorest of the poor get social security guarantee and benefits, he said, “For coming days, we think both auto-rickshaw and rickshaw pullers also should have social security as that is the need of the hour.”
He also said that the ambitious Digital India program of the Union Government will play a critical role in spreading the social security net across the country. “India is a nation of 125 crore people, it cannot be run by old and traditional ways, unless we use technology and unless we go for reforms, then only India will be competitive with other countries,” said Dattatreya.
Terming the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) as one of the largest social security organisation in the world, he said, “There are about four crore contributing members with a total corpus nearing Rs 10 lakh crores, such a big organisation, that is why we need reforms.”
“We are going with speedy reforms in the EPFO, with Shram Suvidha portal, the technology mode and innovations in its business process, the claims settlement has come 100 per cent and smooth operations of accounts is done in a single day, earlier the workers with a cumbersome process were facing many problems,” further said the Minister.
In his address at the ASSOCHAM conference, Dr V.P. Joy, Central Provident Fund Commissioner, EPFO informed that the organisation is currently negotiating with Sri Lanka for social security agreement.
“As of now we have agreements with 19 countries and we would like to increase the number of countries and also make very effective and workable agreements so that all industry and workers are benefitted including both Indians working abroad and foreign nationals who come to work in India,” said Dr Joy.
Highlighting how EPFO is currently on a technological transformation as a generation of technological reforms are taking shape, he said, “On December 1, we are launching three softwares – ECR (Electronic Challan-cum-Return), new version of UAN (Universal Account Number) and a software for direct benefit of PMRPY program, so we are making a complete electronic system for this purpose which will be launched on December 1.”
Informing that EPFO had centralised its computer system, Dr Joy said, “All over the country out of our 123 offices, as of today 30 offices are working on a central computer in Delhi and all data is being shifted to this.”
He said that in the next one month, before December 31, the EPFO will shift work from all its offices on the central computer. “Once the centralisation of data takes place, we will be able to do large number of benefits and reforms to our system, to benefit the employees and workers, so it will become very easy for the workers.”
He said that government is issuing a notification for making Aadhar also kind of compulsory for workers so that their benefits can be instantly transferred as and when it is due. “As part of this kind of software development, in the next three months, we would like to introduce certain improvements to this international workers’ software which is being at present implemented,” said Dr Joy.
Dr Joy also informed that EPFO had started a scheme whereby in the industry when the workers retire their benefits should be given on the date of retirement. “As of now it is not happening but we have given instructions, our offices are on the work, from this week on it is happening that all workers on the day of retirement, their benefits will be sanctioned and given.” He also said that EPFO would like to extend it to the international workers working in India, but for only those who are eligible upon termination of their employment without delay in an online system.
“We will put this mechanism in place in a very short time definitely within three months time and this will promote ease of doing business,” added Dr Joy.