Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya today said the board of retirement fund body EPFO will deliberate on raising investment limit in exchange traded funds (ETFs) to 15 per cent at its meeting later this month, said a PTI Report.
“The proposal to increase investment in ETFs to 15 per cent from 10 per cent in on the agenda of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) Central Board of Trustees meet scheduled on May 27,” Dattatreya told reporters here. “We will deliberate on the proposal and take a decision in this regard. The EPFO has investment Rs 17,000 crore so far in the ETFs and earned an encouraging returns of over 13 per cent,” he said.
EPFO had started investing in ETFs from August 2015 by putting in 5 per cent of its investible deposits of around Rs 1 lakh crore. In 2016-17, the proportion of these investments was raised to 10 per cent. It is likely to be raised further to 15 per cent in the current fiscal. The proposal was deferred at the CBT meet held on April 12, 2017 because some unions had sought an exit policy for liquidating investment in ETFs, securities and state loans to maximise returns before raising the proportion of equity linked investments.
On this issue, Dattatreya said: “Our investment in ETFs is for long term because there would be more returns. We don’t want to take the risk (by selling ETF investment in short term). Long term means 10 years or 15 years. We have appointed CRISIL for these investment.” On the status of Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill which seeks to double the tax free gratuity to Rs 20 lakh, he said: “There are one or two issues. After sorting out those, we would send Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill for approval of the Union Cabinet.”
Earlier, the minister also talked about building and construction workers welfare cess collected by the states, which is not being spend properly by them. He said the Supreme Court has observed that some states have diverted these funds for other use like construction of schools, houses, road and recreation centres which are not in consonance with the norm prescribed by the Labour Ministry. He also said that the apex court has recently asked the government auditor CAG to provide estimates of the cess collected and spent by the states, according to a report.
The minister had earlier told the Rajya Sabha that As much as Rs 31,734 crore have been collected as construction workers’ welfare cess by states and UTs up to December 31, 2016. Of this, he had informed the House, Rs 6,872.51 crore was spent. The cess has been levied and is being collected at 1 per cent of the cost of construction as notified by the central government in the official gazette.
The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996, provides for levy and collection of cess at such rate not exceeding 2 per cent, but not less than 1 per cent of the cost of construction as the central government may notify. The cess is to be utilised for the welfare of building and other construction workers by the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards constituted under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.