Budget may levy new cess to provide social security to coolies

It will cover around 20,000 railway coolies under social security schemes run by the EPFO

Government might announce a new cess in the forthcoming Union Budget 2017-18 to cover around 20,000 railway coolies under social security schemes run by the retirement fund body EPFO.

“There is a proposal from the Labour Ministry to levy a cess of 10 paisa per railway ticket to cover 20,000 railway coolies under the ambit of social security net through the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO),” a source said.

“The proposal makes a lot sense because 10 paisa cess per ticket will not burn of a hole into travellers’ pockets. Besides it would help railways to mop up funds to provide social security to coolies,” said the source.

This proposal is a one of the initiatives of government’s overall efforts to bring over 40 crore informal sector workers under the social security net of the EPFO and others like ESIC.

According to a back-of-the-envelope calculation, levying of this 10 paisa cess will help in collecting about Rs 4.38 crore every year, which will be enough to provide basic minimum facilities like PF, pension and group insurance to coolies.

Indian Railways issues 10-12 lakh rail travel tickets everyday, including 58 per cent reserved tickets. Thus, the move can help mop up about Rs 1.2 lakh every day for the purpose.

Chairman of the Central Board of Trustees, EPFO’s apex decision-making body, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya had already assured the members to look into the proposal mooted by employee representative Ashok Singh.

Singh, the Vice-President of Indian National Trade Union Congress, had floated the proposal at the EPFO’s trustees’ meeting in Bengaluru on December 19, 2016.

The forthcoming general budget is likely to be tabled in Parliament on February 1, 2017.

The proposed cess of 10 paise is on every ticket sold by Indian Railways. It will not be levied per passenger. One ticket sold by Indian Railways can have multiple passengers.

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