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`No pressure to cut EPF interest rate'

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD April 6. The Union Labour Minister, Sahib Singh Verma, has said that the seven-member committee, constituted to review the rate of interest for the Employees Provident Fund, will submit its report by the month-end.

He told presspersons here today that the report would be considered by the Central Board of Trustees of the EPF at its next meeting for a final decision.

The Government favoured maintaining the interest rate at the present 9.5 per cent but it all depended on the returns from investments made out of EPF contributions. The committee, comprising representatives of the workers and employers, would go into all aspects before making its recommendation. The new rate, if any suggested, would be implemented straightway. Mr. Verma denied any pressure from the Finance Ministry to bring down the interest rate.

The Minister said the Centre would take up a housing scheme for the three crore EPF subscribers. The Chief Ministers were being consulted in the matter.

Mr. Verma said the Government planned to enhance the compensation payable to workers on retrenchment from 30 days of pay to 45 days for each earned year. Employment schemes for the retrenched were also being contemplated.

A plan to increase the ceiling of the Employees State Insurance to extend its coverage was also under consideration. Meetings with trade unions and political parties were convened to gather opinion on amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act.

Mr. Verma earlier addressed a meeting to mark the formation day celebration of the BJP at its State office. He said Parliament would enact legislation in a few days for providing social security to the 37-crore workers in the unorganised sector.

He said though the party had its origin in 1952 under the stewardship of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, it completed 23 years on Sunday under the name and style of BJP. He said the Congress was in a disarray.

The Union Minister of State for Railways, Bandaru Dattatreya, said the BJP entered the decisive phase in the political scene of the country. He recalled how other parties, including the TDP, had condemned the BJP as a communal outfit during the initial days and said that was no longer the image since it gained all-round respectability.

The BJP State president, C. Ramachandra Reddy, said the anniversary coincided with the five years of completion in office by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

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