Amit Gopal (for Info only, not official)

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Amit Gopal

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    ...So it is that the cause of the exempt provident fund languishes. If you are an employer, you can remit provident fund deductions to the Employees’ Provident Fund organisation (EPFO). Alternatively, you could set up a Trust, contribute to it and let the Trust and its trustees run the provident fund for your employees. The functioning of the Trust is under the regulatory oversight of the EPFO. Maintaining a Trust comes with some imperatives and many responsibilities. Apart from the obvious (timely contributions for all employees), a primary responsibility of the employer is to ensure that the employee’s benefits are similar or more than those if the funds were with the EPFO. This ensures that the employer pays the same contributions as the EPFO scheme. It also requires that the Trust match or better the investment returns of the EPFO with potential financial risk to the employer. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 13, 2017, 5 p.m.

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    ...Actions in the National Pension System (NPS), improvements in the delivery mechanisms of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), improvements in portability of pensions and changes in tax laws, are some areas of ‘high-octane action’ in occupational pensions. While all this action has augured well for some, one should not always confuse activity with progress. Pronouncements have tended to be grandiose, execution flawed. Of more concern are constant flip-flops in policy. A recent example is the one that relates to crediting interest to dormant balances in EPF. The piquant issue of dormancy in pensions bears a deeper look. Dormant accounts (also termed inoperative accounts in EPF parlance) are inactive balances of members. New contributions are not received in these accounts due to cessation of employment of the member with an employer. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 17, 2017, 1:07 p.m.

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    ...They have had enough of my dull and prosaic existence, I mutter, but Facebook persists. I know how this face-off will end. Facebook is a multi-billion dollar behemoth; me, a poor soul. A Facebook-esque look back into the year in Indian pensions throws up fascinating episodes. The ‘orange revolution’ in Indian pensions For a follower of pensions, this will remain the high point of not just this year, but for many years—a time when the so-called silent and indifferent ‘subscriber’ made policymakers see red. Two events, in close proximity, triggered protests among employees who contribute to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). One, changes in regulation governing withdrawal of provident fund and the other, changes to the taxation of provident fund. Protests were widespread—on the streets and the internet. For long, cynics like yours truly thought of the employee as indifferent to pension policy. These episodes made us see things differently. What was instructional was how widespread these protests were. ...

    Live Mint on Dec. 27, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

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    ...So when a friend posted this Don McLean song in the context of the US presidential election results, I could be forgiven for thinking that he was talking about investments by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in equities. After all, both seem headed towards an abyss unless serious corrective action is taken. Here is why. Our Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) money was invested by the EPFO and the trusts in government and government-owned company bonds for many years. This fixed-income-based asset allocation was appropriate for an era of non-existent retirement planning, under-developed capital markets and low employee expectations. It was also apt for the EPF, given that returns from the fund are credited to members’ accounts annually. Bonds give fixed rates of return, which are earned by the EPFO’s fund and credited to member accounts—an uncomplicated method to keep assets and liabilities in the balance. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 24, 2016, 4:13 p.m.

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    ...Some generate their own power, others transport their employees to work and some others are also responsible for maintaining law and order among their employees. For long, this has resulted in an inefficient business environment, where fewer resources are spent on strategy and execution, and more on non-core overheads. Maintaining compliances to labour laws fits this bill of non-core overheads, with provident fund (PF) compliances leading the parade. So why does the employer get excessively involved in Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) compliances? The design of the regulation and its execution provides a hint. They hark back to an era when employee attrition was rare, geographical coverage of the EPFO was sparse, and infrastructure like banking and communications were underdeveloped. Further, socialistic leanings of the era turned compliance into an obsession. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 10, 2016, 4:24 p.m.

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    ...Kaffee has just incited Jessup.A hubristic Jessup launches into a tirade, where he says: “I have a greater responsibility than you possibly can fathom.” I would like to believe that the people and institutions that design, legislate, implement and oversee provident fund (PF) and pensions, think like Jessup—that they have a greater responsibility than anyone can fathom.But occurrences over the years prove otherwise.Governance rarely bears a mention in the field of pensions, resulting in indifferent and often, poor governance.Let’s look at some of the widely quoted instances of not-so-great governance in the pension sector: * In 2008, the government changed the PF regulations to make it mandatory for expatriate employees to contribute to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 12, 2016, 4:38 p.m.