Retirement fund body EPFO will kickstart the process of investing in the stock market on August 6 with an initial corpus of around Rs 5,000 crore to be invested through ETFs in the current fiscal.

“We are making our first investment in equity (market) on August 6 in Mumbai. The Labour Minister (Bandaru Dattatreya) will preside over the function,” EPFO’s Central Provident Fund Commissioner K K Jalan said while addressing an Assocham conference here.

The Labour Ministry had notified the new investment pattern for the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in April, allowing the body to invest a minimum of 5 per cent and up to 15 per cent of its funds in equity or equity-related schemes.

However, the EPFO management has decided to invest 5 per cent of its incremental deposits in ETFs only during the current fiscal.

On the size of investment, Jalan said, “I also don’t know. It depends upon the market. Finance Ministry norms allow me to invest up to 15 per cent (of incremental deposits) but CBT allows me to invest 5 per cent (in ETFs) to start with.”

During the April-June period, EPFO’s monthly incremental deposit was around Rs 8,200 crore. Thus, it will have around Rs 410 crore at its disposal to invest in ETFs every month.

“We are a long-term player and in the long-term the equity market behaves in a positive manner. They (equity) have always given a positive return (in the long-term),” Jalan said.

“But the risk element of equity going down is always there. That risk element is very, very less because it is only 5 per cent of the incremental market (deposit)... even if we invest Rs 6,000 crore, as you say, that is even less than 1 per cent of our corpus (Rs 6.5 lakh crore),” he said.

SBI Mutual funds has been roped in by the EPFO to help the body in its investments in ETFs and understand the dynamics of the stock market.

EPFO has not invested in equity markets so far. Some trade union members on the board of EPFO’s apex decision-making body, the Central Board Of Trustees (CBT), have been opposing the decision to park funds in the volatile stock market.

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