Social security pacts with more countries soon

August 5th, 2011 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 5 (IANS) India is in talks with several countries for concluding bilateral social security agreements (SSAs) that would make it possible to reach the fruits of Employees’ Provident Fund Schemes to international workers, officials said Friday.

The integrated computerised system related to EPF functioning will also be fully operational by November, according to officials.

“By the end of November this year the integrated computerised system will become fully operational. The delay is because of our huge clientele. Under the EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Commissioner) there are 6.15 lakh establishments and over six crore members,” Additional Central Provident Fund Commissioner A.M. Raju said at an interactive session organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.

Regional PF Commissioner S.K. Gupta said the union government is holding parleys with several nations for entering into bilateral agreement required to extend the benefits under the PF schemes to international workers.

“Unless there is a social security agreement (SSA) between the country from which the worker hails and the country in which the worker works, he cannot avail the benefits under the Act. At present, we have agreements with about 15 countries including Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The number of countries will increase gradually. Talks are on,” said Gupta.

From Nov 1, 2008, international workers - both Indians working outside the country and non-Indian citizens working here - have been brought under the ambit of EPFO.

Gupta also said the computerised system has expedited settlement of claims, increased transparency and made the procedure less cumbersome.

“The integrated computerised system made operational in association with National Informatics Centre (NIC) has enabled the EPFO offices across the country to function in a secured and efficient way. Claims are now being settled through the system in quick time.

“All information regarding claims or for that matter any other thing is made readily available on our website. Whatever stage we are in, the information is made available which reflects transparency. The processing time has come down drastically so much so that in last four months, we have issued seven to eight crore of accounts,” said Gupta.

Gupta also said with the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) in effect, the accounts of the members can now be directly credited or debited as and when required.

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