During a recent informal meeting of the non-official members of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) Central Board of Trustees (CBT) with Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, INTUC President of Uttar Pradesh Ashok Singh suggested investment in shares of profit making public sector firms.

"I have suggested that a small portion of EPFO funds should be invested in profit making navratna public sector firms to improve returns," Singh who is also an EPFO trustee said.

He said, "I have also suggested that EPFO should go ahead with investment in public sector equity only with expert advice and must have a monitoring system for the purpose."

According to Singh, before going ahead with any investment in public sector shares, the EPFO should have two separate committees for managing its finances and auditing.

Singh said that another trustee P J Banasure who is a representative of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh also echoed similar views in the back drop of lower interest being paid on PF deposits at 8.75 percent per annum at present compared to 12 percent paid by EPFO in the past.

The labour minister who is also the chairman of the CBT, had called the meeting of non-official trustees on October 13 to hear the view of employers' as well as employees' representatives on different issues.

Another trustee and Hind Mazoor Sabha Secretary A D Nagpal who was also present at the meeting said,"Since it was an informal meeting, no decision was taken. We are in favour of enhancing returns on PF deposits but not by investing in any type of equity."

Echoing similar views, another trustee and Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress D L Sachdev said, "We are not in favour of investing EPFO funds in any kind of equity. EPFO had invested in HMT which was a public sector firm. But everybody knows about the status of HMT."

During last meeting of the CBT, the proposed pattern of investment by the finance ministry was discussed and the board was not in favour of investing in equities and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

However, the CBT had decided to recommend making the pattern more flexible to further increase the percentage of investment in government securities.

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