EPFO says no to investment in equity in absence of guarantee

New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) The retirement fund managerEPFO trustees today decided not to invest a portion of Rs5,00,000 crore funds in the stock market in view of FinanceMinistry''s refusal to provide any guarantee on returns andsafety of such investments.

"We don''t want to invest in equities. No futherdecision has been taken on this and same status (of notinvesting PF money in stock market) would prevail," LabourMinister Mallikarjun Kharge said.

He was speaking to reporters after the meetingof the Central Board of Trustees, the highest policy makingbody of Employees'' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

"We did not get any guarantee from Finance Ministry onsuch investment in stock market," Kharge said, addingthere has been no change in EPFO''s stance.

EPFO maintains about Rs 3,00,000 crore corpus with asubcriber base of 4.71 crore whereas the provident fund trustmanaging their employees money themselves manage funds to thetune of around Rs 2,00,000 crore.

Earlier in September last year, the CBT has decidednot to invest a portion of EPFO funds in stock markets in viewof volatile nature of the equities market and sought guaranteeof Finance Ministry on such investments.

In a letter to the Finance Ministry, the LabourMinistry had said that EPFO can invest part of provident fundcorpus in the stock market provided the Finance Ministryguarantees safety of the workers'' money.

"... if the investment in the capital market is so good,then there should be no problem for the government to providea guarantee regarding the safety of the workers'' capital fundsand a reasonable rate of return on the capital," LabourSecretary P C Chaturvedi had said in a letter to the thenFinance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

Replying to this, Finance Ministry had categoricallysaid, "There is no question of government providing thesovereign guarantee to any provident fund...government givesno guarantee of safety of returns to any provident fund."

About ensuring speedy settlement of claims and transferof accounts, the minister said, "the trustees have decided tocomplete the digitalisation of records of all subcribers''accounts by the first week of next month."

EPFO has digitalised data in its 116 offices. Theremaining four offices are in final stages of completing thecomputerisation process.

Kharge also confirmed that board decided to resumeinvestments in LIC Housing Finance which EPFO had stopped inSeptember last after surfacing of a scam in the home loancompany.

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