The AITUC shot off a letter to Gangwar on July 29, after a report suggested that there were withdrawals to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore in April-June this year during the coronavirus-related lockdown.
In the letter the Union stated, “The whole idea behind this campaign seems to be making a case for saying that incomes are deteriorating and hence interest rate be reduced. We would request you to please get us details in the matter so that this kind of malafide campaign must be stopped.”
The union further stated, “As for our knowledge goes, normal withdrawal was to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore about last time during the same time span which is not at much variance from present (in April-June this year) Rs 22,000 crore (the figures would increase year to year as the income also increases).”
Earlier this year, the government allowed EPFO subscribers to withdraw money from the EPF accounts under the COVID-19 provision. This enabled subscribers to withdraw up to three months basic wages or 50 per cent of their EPF accumulations which ever is less.
Subscribers have also the option to withdraw money from their PF account on various grounds like home buying, children education, medical treatment etc. These are also routine withdrawals claims for the EPFO.
The union urged the minister to take necessary steps to get facts checked, alleging that “the campaign against the EPFO with intention of making a case for reduction of interest rate of EPF is being carried”.
It further said, “The stories reported….. that some EPFO officials informed that Rs 30,000 crore were withdrawn between April to June this year by 80 lakh subscribers. But very cleverly it was not reported that how much money was withdrawn in the previous year during the same time span.”
The union alleged in its letter that “those officials planting stories in media are making general remarks as if all withdrawal is due to lockdown induced where as we know that there is general withdrawal in normal times also for the medical exigencies and needs of the family.”
It pointed out that there should be numbers told instead how much withdrawal is lockdown/Covid situation induced.
About the Rs 8,000 crore withdrawn by three million subscribers in April-June this year, the union stated that it is but natural that in crises situation of no wages or pandemic related job loss etc. this withdrawal had to happen.
The spokesperson of the Labour Ministry declined to comment on the issue saying that it is under examination.