This refers to ‘Fund of troubles’ (August 17). The very fact that EPFO has decided to increase the allocation of its assets from 15 per cent to 25 per cent to equity linked instruments implies that there needs to be a continuous monitoring of their investment portfolio in tune with market fluctuations. There is an urgent need on the part of EPFO to form an exclusive risk management team in line with mutual funds to monitor the investments from time to time. The fact that the underlying shares fluctuate in their value implies that there has to be an active trading department to maximise returns.
The minimum tenure for payment of PPF being 15 years and with the equity investments to be rewarding the fund needs to invest for at least 7-10 years, there is bound to be pressure on the EPFO, due to mismatch in tenure, to apply the same interest rate on PF to be paid to all the retirees — both normal and voluntary. Overall, to follow the concept of paying an attractive fixed return against floating yields is indeed going to be a challenge to the EPFO.
More a political decision
Decision about rate of interest payable to PF accumulations has often become a political rather than a financial one. Further, EPFO’s disclosure policies are not transparent. The EPFO should adopt a robust accounting system, based on the commercial or accrual system.
Also, the EPFO has still not demonstrated its capability to manage the Employees’ Pension Scheme efficiently. It is time the Centre transferred the management of EPS to accredited pension fund managers authorised by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
Narendra M Apte
GST impact on infra sector
This refers to ‘GST hurting key sectors’ (August 17). The need for speeding up structural reforms in India got amplified after the pandemic, which paralysed infra development during the last couple of years. Key sectors like cement, steel, logistics electricity, which are the backbone of augmenting structural reforms, are taxed at higher rate of GST. This increases the cost of inputs, hampering infra growth in the process. A 28 per cent GST on cement will slowdown the pace of construction. Further, the tax on bonus for early completion of contract work reduces the motivation of contractors for quick completion.
The arrival of Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5 is a matter of great concern for India. It is reported that the tracking vessel has the capability of a 750-km reach, which means that many ports in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala could be on China’s radar.
It is rather unfortunate that the Hambantota port which is leased for 99 years to China would be a threat to the Indian Ocean Region.
Though China affirms that the marine scientific research proposed to be conducted by the ship conforms to international law and practice, it cannot be trusted.
China had been aggressive in making its presence across the Indian Ocean region ever since its attempts to secure Agalega Island from Mauritius failed a few years ago.
Caring for the elderly
Hats off to Ratan Tata for such a novel idea to take care of the elderly of society.
It is pathetic to see elders left to fend for themselves without any support from society/children. In developed countries, there are many schemes for the elderly and they get ample support from the government.
However, in India, there are many elders who are abandoned by their children and are left in badly run old-age homes, footpaths, etc.
The government should step in devise well-planned policies/schemes for the benefit of India’s ageing population, taking into consideration their economic, health and social well-being. Atal Pension Yojana is one such scheme, which guarantees pension to those from the unorganised sector.
The government should introduce more such schemes and also make the existing schemes more attractive with regular amendments. A society that neglects its elders will not prosper.