New Delhi: Government has set up a welfare fund which will utilise unclaimed money, estimated to be in excess of Rs 9,000 crore, lying in PPF, employees provident fund and small savings schemes to provide healthcare facilities and pension to senior citizens.
According to a notification, public institutions like post offices, employees provident fund organisation (EPFO) will be required to assess the unclaimed amounts and transfer them to 'Senior Citizens Welfare Fund' before March 1 every year.
The money will be utilised to promote financial security of senior citizens, old age pension, healthcare, health insurance and welfare of elderly widows. It will also fund schemes related to old-age homes, day care of senior citizens and research activities related with ageing.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2015-16 had announced creation of a fund using unclaimed deposits of about Rs 3,000 crore in the PPF, and Rs 6,000 crore in the EPF corpus.
The Fund, he said, "will be used to subsidise the premiums of vulnerable groups such as old age pensioners, BPL card-holders, small and marginal farmers and others".
The number of senior citizens in the country is over 10.5 crore, out of which over one crore are above the age of 80 years. 70 per cent live in rural areas and a large number are in the BPL category.
As per the notification, the unclaimed amounts will be transferred from small savings and other savings schemes of the central government including the Post Office Savings Accounts, Recurring Deposit Accounts, Time Deposit Accounts, Monthly Income scheme, Senior Citizens' Savings Scheme Accounts, Kisan Vikas Patra, National Savings Certificates, Sukanya Samriddhi Accounts and discontinued Small Savings Schemes.
Besides, unclaimed deposits in Public Provident Fund (PPF) and accounts of Employees Provident Fund will also be transferred to the newly created Fund.
However, before transferring the Fund, the institutions will try to contact each of the account holder of the unclaimed amount, including by way of written notice, e-mail and telephone, twice within a period of 60 days.
The institution will display the list prepared for the general information of the public, on the notice boards of the relevant offices and on the website of the Institution concerned for at least a period of 60 days, inviting claims, if any, the notification said.
The Fund, to be set up under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will be managed by a committee headed by the Secretary of the Ministry. It will have representatives from Ministries of finance, labour, health, rural development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
The Committee will meet at least twice a year.