Srinagar – Two bills were introduced in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly to protect the interests of depositors of financial establishments and to amend Jammu and Kashmir Employees Provident Fund Act. Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather introduced the first bill to protect the interest of depositors of financial establishments. Explaining objective of the bill, Mr Rather said a large number of unknown and unauthorised financial establishments started their business in the State in recent years and closed their activities soon thereafter, duping the gullible public of hard earned saving worth tens of crorers of rupees. He said most of these establishments turned out to be bogus and their sole aim was to loot the general public. The modus operandi employed by these establishments was to offer fanciful returns on deposits and commercially impossible low interest rates on loans for which they would charge handsome service charges in advance. The promoters of these bogus financial establishments fled from the state, leaving thousands of innocent citizens in a quandary, not to speak of getting returns as promised, these firms defaulted even in the return of the principal sums of the depositors and advance service charges taken from the loanees. This state of affairs has necessitated taking appropriate measures to curb the unscrupulous activities of such financial institutions in Jammu and Kashmir and to protect the interests of the public at large. This legislation aims to achieve this end by prescribing stringent punishment for such wrong doings by bogus financial establishments, besides providing for the attachment of their properties. Another Bill was introduced by Minister for Labour and Employment, Abdul Gani Malik to amend Jammu and Kashmir Employees Provident Fund Act. The Minister explaind the objective of the Bill as the Jammu and Kashmir Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1961, applies to every establishment in which five or more persons are employed at any time. With a view to reconcilling the conflicting interests of labour and Industry, a high-level committee was constituted vide Government Order No.1255-GAD of 2011 dated October to discuss the issues of Federation of Industries with regard to increasing the threshold limit of the applicability of the said Act from 5 to 10 workers. The committee held several meetings with various stakeholders and recommended that the threshold limit of number of employees in an establishment for coverage under the EPF Scheme will be raised from 5 to 10 prospectively, provided that the establishments covered at present, and having employees lesser than ten, will continue to be within the ambit of the scheme in respect of the employees already covered. Rate of contribution of the employer’s will be increased from 8.33 to 12 per cent.
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