4 lakh tap on EPFO Covid-19 window

New Delhi: The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has received 400,000 requests for withdrawals under a special Covid-19 window announced 13 days ago to provide relief to subscribers in financial need. The facility allows such subscribers to withdraw three months’ salary or 75% of their retirement funds. The EPFO has deployed […]

New Delhi: The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has received 400,000 requests for withdrawals under a special Covid-19 window announced 13 days ago to provide relief to subscribers in financial need. The facility allows such subscribers to withdraw three months’ salary or 75% of their retirement funds.

The EPFO has deployed artificial intelligence for speedier processing of claims. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced this window as part of the ₹1.7 lakh crore relief package on March 26.

The scheme was amended on March 28 to allow members to withdraw non-refundable advances – either their basic wages and dearness allowance for three months or up to 75% of total account, whichever was less – if facing any financial exigency due to Covid-19.

The most claims came from Mumbai, New Delhi, Gurgaon and Pune, top government officials told ET.

“The number of claims is going up several-fold with each passing day. We have deployed artificial intelligence for speedier processing of the claims,” one official said.

About 137,000 claims have been processed and ₹279.65 crore disbursed.

The Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown have thrown up challenges such as layoffs, pay cuts and a general slowdown in many sectors, especially services, which have been hit the hardest. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said the country’s unemployment rate shot up to more than 23% in the week ended April 5, after the 21-day lockdown started on March 25.

EPFO had tested the use of AI over the past four months across various processes and has deployed it to settle Covid-19-related claims. KYC-compliant applications are processed within 72 hours, while requests with details missing are being processed manually, the official said.

“Claim requests are in various stages of deficiencies, if not fully KYC compliant,” Central Provident Fund Commissioner Sunil Barthawal told ET.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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