"We are working on the proposal to create Workers' Bank using Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) funds," a senior Labour Ministry official said.
Asked whether the proposal would soon be sent to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) for vetting and approval, the official said, "Obviously. It would be sent to DFS. But first we have to firm up the proposal."
The proposal was discussed in the EPFO's apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees' (CBT) meeting on December 19.
The deliberations on the matter concluded that it would ideal for EPFO to set up Workers' Bank as it would not only meet the financial requirements of members but also improve returns.
As per the minutes of the CBT meeting, then Labour Secretary Gauri Kumar had said that "EPFO may not have the core competence to run Workers’ Bank. However, the suggestions for Workers’ Bank can be referred for consideration of DFS based on discussions in CBT."
Commenting on the proposal another senior official said, "It would not appropriate at this point of time to create Workers' Bank. EPFO is bringing its house in order by improving delivery of service."
He further said, "EPFO is going through a transition phase to move toward providing core banking type services to its subscribers. It has recently introduced portable PF account numbers to its subscribers. It needs to consolidate its core competence rather than starting new venture."
EPFO has a subscribers' base of over 5 crore and manages a huge corpus of Rs 6.5 lakh crore. It receives around Rs 70,000 crore every year as incremental deposit. During the current fiscal, EPFO is estimated to receive Rs 79,000 crore.
When asked about the status of Labour Ministry's proposal to set up a central vocational university, the official said, "It is still there and ministry is working on it."

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