EPFO may fix minimum pension for members at Rs1,000 per month

The data reveals that there are cases where pensioners are getting a monthly pension as low as Rs12 and Rs38

Retirement fund body EPFO is mulling over fixation of the minimum pension for its subscribers at Rs1,000 per month and the issue will be discussed by its trustees at their next meeting on December 23.

"The EPFO's apex decision-making body, the Central Board of Trustees headed by the Labour Minister, will take call on the proposal to fix minimum pension at Rs1,000 per month for its subscribers in a meeting on December 23," a source privy to the development said.

According to EPFO data, as of March 31, 2010, there are 35 lakh pensioners subscribed to the retirement fund body, of which 14 lakh persons get a monthly pension of less than Rs500.

The number of EPFO pensioners getting a monthly pension of Rs1,000 is 7 lakh. The data reveals that there are cases where pensioners are getting a monthly pension as low as Rs12 and Rs38.

"In the present scenario, when the cost of living has gone up due to high inflation, the minimum pension should not be less than Rs2,000 per month," suggested Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary A D Nagpal.

He pointed out, "Even the senior citizen pension ranges from Rs400 to Rs1,000 per month across the states without any contribution." Although the representatives of employers and employees have agreed on fixing the minimum pension at Rs1,000 per month, there is no decision on the means of raising the additional fund requirement.

As per estimates, the decision will require an additional contribution of 0.63% of subscribers' basic pay and dearness allowance.

The hike in contribution will be over-and-above the 8.33% contributed by employers toward the pension account of employees, as well as the 1.16% provided by the government under the scheme.

If the government decides to bear the extra cost, then an amendment to the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS) would be needed.

"It is possible trustees may decided on sharing of additional burden equally by government, employees and employers," a trustee said.

Furthermore, the CBT is likely to discuss the proposal to issue pass books to subscribers on the lines of banking services for certain categories of workers, particularly construction labourers. The EPFO has subscriber base of over 4.71 crore and manages a corpus of Rs3.5 lakh crore.


Indian households hold over $950 bn of gold: Report

Gold consumption is part of India's culture and tradition and the country is the world's largest consumer of gold, followed by China

India's innate fascination with gold continues as Indian households hold gold worth over 950 billion which in turn is around 50% of the country's GDP in dollar terms, says a report. Gold consumption is part of India's culture and tradition and the country is the world's largest consumer of gold, followed by China.

Indian households hold 18,000 tonnes of gold which represents 11% of the global stock and worth more than 950 billion, around 50% of India nominal GDP in dollar terms, says global research firm Macquarie.

According to Macquarie, 7%–8% of India's %329 billion in household savings was held in gold in 2009-10. With gold evolving as a store of value more than an adornment, rising gold prices have also contributed towards increasing Indian households' "perceived wealth".

Macquarie used the term "perceived wealth" because most Indian households are reluctant to part with their gold jewellery and other gold holdings, even at times of crisis, as doing so is considered a stigma, it said.

Notwithstanding the 64% cumulative rise in gold prices, (in rupee terms) between January 2010 and September 2011, gold consumption in India in volume terms (including jewellery and net retail investment) is still holding strong.

During the first three quarters of 2011, there has been a 5% year-on-year increase, on the top of 72% year-on-year growth registered in 2010, Macquarie said. Although during the quarter ended September, 2011, gold demand in volume terms declined 23% over last year largely owing to sharp depreciation in rupee, high gold prices and inauspicious times according to the Hindu calendar.
However, in value terms "India still remains the world's largest consumer of gold as of September, 2011, in tonnage terms," Macquarie said. The report further noted that rising gold consumption is one of the reasons for a depreciating rupee.
"Gold imports alone have contributed nearly 40 basis points to the 130 basis points widening in India's current account deficit between FY'08 and FY'11," Macquarie said. Gold imports are the third-largest of India's merchandise imports after crude oil and capital goods. In 2010, about 92% of the supply of gold in India was met through net imports and the rest through recycled gold and other sources.

One of the factors behind the weakness in rupee is the high current account deficit of India, while most other Asian countries have a current account surplus. In addition, it is running a very high fiscal deficit and domestic growth is slowing, Macquarie said.

"We expect the current account deficit to remain high at 2.8% of GDP for FY2011-12," Macquarie said.


Bajaj Allianz launches ULIP with guarantee of double

Bajaj Allianz’s plan offers partial withdrawal after 5 years and life cover throughout the term of 10 years

Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance has launched a new unit-linked plan—Guaranteed Maturity Insurance Plan (GMIP)—that provides at maturity at least 200% of the amount invested along with a secure life cover. With the minimum single premium of Rs5,000, the product is the lowest single premium ULIP available in India, thereby making the product affordable for all income segments.

GMIP is a simple to understand plan in which the single premium invested will be kept in denominations of Rs5,000 each called as “Guaranteed Maturity Certificate (GMCs)”. The provision of GMCs facilitates liquidity and preserves guarantee since partial withdrawals can be made only in units of GMCs i.e. in multiples of Rs5,000. Thus, the investor will not have to compromise on the guarantee of other GMCs which he/she holds till maturity.

The plan does not have any allocation charge and 100% of the single premium paid by the policyholder goes into the unit account. The plan offers partial withdrawal after 5 years and life cover throughout the term of 10 years.

Premium Paid are eligible for tax benefits under section 80C and maturity benefit , death benefit, and surrender value are eligible for Tax benefits under Section 10(10)D of the Income Tax Act subject to the provision stated therein. A maximum of 1/3rd of the GMCs taken at inception can be withdrawn during the whole of the policy term.

In case of death benefit, higher of prevailing sum assured reduced by the value of the units withdrawn through partial withdrawals from fund value in the last 2 years prior to death or fund value as on date of receipt of intimation of death.


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