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60 lakh UANs activated from 4.17 crore active PF users: Official
Citing a lukewarm response from companies in implementing Universal Account Number (UAN), the union labour ministry has said that only 60 lakh UANs have been activated so far from an active base of 4.17 crore provident fund subscribers.
 
Making it mandatory for the conversion of existing Provident Fund accounts into UANs was under consideration of the authorities, said V. Vijaya Kumar, an additional central provident fund commissioner for West Bengal, North-East and Jharkhand.
 
"I find that the employers are lethargic in converting their employees' provident fund (PF) accounts into UAN," he said.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in October 2014 launched UAN for provident fund subscribers, which would enable them to link their PF accounts to this number. This would, in turn, ensure easier portability and ease in transfer of money directly to employees' bank accounts.
 
"The situation is particularly of concern in eastern India, where the conversion is low. In Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other prominent cities, where corporate culture is well rooted, the response has been good," he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce here.
 
Only 1.75 lakh of the 35 lakh active provident fund users in West Bengal had opted for UAN till now, the official added.
 
He said that the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had been conducting several programmes to spread awareness about UAN and address concerns raised by employers.
 
Asked if the centre was considering signing more social security agreements with foreign countries, Vijay Kumar said, "Talks are on with another 22-23 countries, mostly in Europe, to conclude such agreements."
 
According to data from ministry of overseas Indian affairs, India has signed social security agreements with 18 countries, mostly in Europe. However, only eight of them have been implemented so far.

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6,000 Indonesians evacuated over risk of volcanic eruption
Indonesian authorities evacuated around 6,000 people living on the slopes of Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island, after raising the alert over increased volcanic activity, National Agency for Disaster Management said on Wednesday.
 
The volume of lava at the top has increased by more than three million cubic metres and was “unstable”, said the agency in a statement.
 
"There is a risk for the collapse of the dome followed by block-and-ash flows as far as seven km to the south-east," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the agency spokesperson.
 
In February 2014, 16 people were killed after this volcano erupted, which has been particularly active since September 2010.
 
Mount Sinabung erupted for the first time in August 2010 after remaining calm for 400 years.
 
More than 25,000 people had to be evacuated between 2013 and 2014 due to repeated eruptions of lava, rocks and ash.
 
At least 2,000 of the evacuated people continue to remain in temporary camps.
 
Indonesia sits on the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, an area of high seismic and volcanic activity, that is home to more than 400 volcanoes, of which at least 129 are active and 65 are considered dangerous.

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Creditors agree to proposal for Greece to unblock aid
Greece's international creditors have developed a joint proposal on the reform plan that is being considered for Athens to unblock pending financial aid, an offer that will be addressed shortly by the Greek government, Eurozone sources told Spanish news agency Efe.
 
There exists a “joint document” of the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the sources without revealing further details of the proposal or when exactly it would be presented to Greece.
 
Other sources, however, said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was expected to travel to Brussels to meet EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, late on Wednesday.
 
Tsipras has outlined his own proposal to the creditors and said it was a complete programme of reforms in which he has made concessions, adding that the decision was now in the hands of European political leaders.
 
The Eurozone sources said the Greek plan was still "insufficient and not global", which has been a long-standing demand of the creditors.
 
Both parties expect to close this week an agreement on reforms to be applied by Athens to end the fifth and final review of the plan to rescue the country and gain access to the 7.2 billion euros ($8.05 billion) remaining of the second financial programme, deferred in February by four months until June 30.
 
However, the fact that creditors consider the latest Greek proposal to be inadequate and that they have made another offer may even delay the agreement since it remains to be seen if Greece accepts the conditions posed by the institutions.
 
Having recognised that differences continue to persist, the Eurozone insisted that "we are still not there", in reference to a possible agreement.
 
Both parties are aware that an agreement is urgently needed, taking into account that Athens has to cope with a new payment to the IMF.
 
Greece must pay back this week the first tranche of about 300 million euros to the IMF and, in total, must return 1.6 billion euros by this month.
 
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday in an interview with RTL television channel that even if an agreement was reached this week, an immediate disbursement was technically impossible.
 
This is because, first, a technical agreement is needed which then must be approved in the Eurogroup following which Greece must start implementing reforms before it can expect even a partial disbursement. 

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