Amaar Khan wants back his provident fund sum – hard earned savings that belonged to him – but is realising that withdrawing an amount from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is not easy.
After a four-month wait, he has been told to return after a month – just to check his status.
“When I talked to the EPFO’s public relations officer he told me that there are claims pending since Nov 2008 and so I need to wait,” Khan says.
He is not alone, and there are worse cases involving longer waits with the EPFO, which manages PF savings for some 4.5 crore private sector employees. An unprecedented surge in the number of settlement applications ---pending with the 118-odd PF offices across the country---has raised doubts over the tall claims staged by the EPFO towards speedy and timely clearance of dues.
Withdrawal claims rose 32 per cent in 2008-09 against 10 per cent in the previous year.
Official data from the EPFO reveal that it had to carry forward 74 lakh of 1 crore claim applications received in 2008-09, though it officially boasts of a 30-day timeline to clear such dues – with a promise to reduce it to seven days.
The EPFO data further shows that its regional PF offices could clear only 20 lakh PF claims out of the 76 lakh applications received during 2007-08. As many as 56 lakh pending applications were carried over for clearance to 2008-09.
Admitting 7the pile-up, the Central Provident Fund Commissioner, K Chandramouli said, “With rise in claims, computerization of all PF offices holds the key.” He says computers can cut down the time taken to a fifth of the current levels.
The economic downturn increased settlement claims, with jobs being lost or workers dipping into their long-term savings.