Smart cards for 40 cr unorganised workers in offing

11 February 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon launch a smart card scheme for over 40 crore unorganised workers in the country to provide them various social security benefits like insurance and pension.

"Within one month Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch smart card called UWIN (Unorganised Workers' Identification Number) card. We had sought time from the Prime Minister for launching it for over 40 crore workers in the country," Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told reporters at launch of Global Network Operations Centre (g-NOC) of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in Delhi.

The minister said that through the UWIN card, government wants to provide social security to all those people who are not covered either by EPFO or Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

He said that the UWIN card will be a chip-based instrument to provide benefit to these workers and their family under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Atal Pension Yojana, Aam Admi Bima Yojana (AABY), Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.

The minister said that the entire task of issuing smart cards to all informal sector workers would take at least two years and government will issue 10 crore such cards in the first phase.

Asked about Centre's plan to invest funds lying in dormant EPF accounts, the minister said, "We are custodian of the workers' money. The worker can come and claim his or her funds."

Elaborating further, labour secretary Shankar Aggarwal said, "The finance ministry is working on how to use around Rs 30,000 crore in inoperative accounts without compromising on workers right. Labour Ministry has no right over that money."

Inoperative accounts are those accounts where contribution is not made for more than 36 months. The EPFO does not credit interest in these accounts. However holders of these accounts can withdraw the money.

On the possibility of providing 9 per cent rate of interest to over five crore subscribers of the EPFO for 2015-16, the Minister said that Central Board of Trustees' will take a call on it on 16 February at its meeting in Chennai.

There is possibility that EPFO may pay 9 per cent rate of interest for the current fiscal as providing 8.95 per cent will leave a surplus of over Rs 100 crore as per September calculations of the EPFO worked out in September.

An EPFO trustee had earlier told PTI, providing 9 per cent rate of interest for this fiscal as per latest calculation may leave a surplus of Rs100 crore and it is quite possible.

The g-NOC is expected to function as the nerve centre of all the IT operations of the EPFO. It would be functioning as the centre to monitor all the three proposed data centres at Gurgaon, Secunderabad and National Data Centre Dwarka.

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