The Employees Provident Fund Organisation has decided to increase the investment basket of the fund.

The Employees Provident Fund Organisation has decided to increase the investment basket of the fund. The Central Board of Trustees also gave the go ahead to borrow from the collateral borrowing and lending obligations (CBLO) market, approved by the Reserve Bank of India.
Until now, the retirement fund manager could invest only in fixed deposits with tenure of less than a year. It was not allowed to invest in CDs or borrow from CBLO.
The move is aimed at improving the performance of the EPFO, which was forced to slash its returns to a 10 year low of 8.25 per cent in 2011-12. The increased investment option will improve earnings without compromising safety.
The decision will now be forwarded to the finance ministry for final approval. The CBT also restored the status of IDFC as a public finance institution. But the ask-averse trustees chose to stay away from increasing investments into the private sector and have cat4ed for a study into the issue.
The Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO also gave their nod to the proposal of Reli­ance Capital Asset Management (RCAML) to sell 26 per cent stake to Japanese insurance firm Nippon Life.
Reliance Capital is one of the four fund managers of the EPFO managing 20 per cent of its corpus. The approval was needed because as per the contract with the EPFO, its fund managers cannot do mergers, acquisitions, etc without the approval of the Trust.

Many evaluation studies have point­ed out the gaps in implementation of the programmes affecting the delivery of ben­efits to the intended beneficiaries. Gram Panchayat is the lowest level of the hier­archy of Panchayat Raj Institutions which is expected to plan and implement the welfare and development programmes of the Government. However, the Gram Panchayats are poorly equipped with manpower and the knowledge and un­derstanding of the functionaries of Grani Panchayat is inadequate. Therefore, Min­istry of Rural Development, Government of India has conceived a concept called “Lab-to-Land Initiative” for dissemination of information about various welfare and development programmes among rural households through campaign mode and this requires some kind of mechanism to reach every rural household as a last mile connectivity considering the limitations of existing government machinery.
The initiative of the Ministry has involved thousands of rural youths in the task of carrying the benefits of Government’s schemes to the masses by appointing them as Bharat Nirrnan Vol­ unteers. The number of these volunteers, working without any remuneration, is set to touch 4.50 lakh by this year-end.
“Lab to Land” approach would. not only help improve the rural in­frastructure but would also facilitate the extension of facilities available in cities to the far-off villages. Recently a three-day national colloquium on ‘lab to land’ held in Jaipur. In the colloquium, Rajasthan Rural Development Minister Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya pointed out that the gram sabhas and ward sabhas in Rajasthan were holding an average of four meetings every month. The newly-appointed volunteers could make the revenue officers, para-medical staff and school teachers responsible and generate confidence among the villagers, he said while referring to the transfer of ‘five important departments to Panchayati Raj institutions in the State.
The moving force behind the initiative was Joint Secretary in the Union Government’s Rural Develop­ment Department Niten Chandra, who introduced the concept in 2010. Niten Chandra said in the colloquium that a huge disconnect between the Rural Development Ministry and the people at large was being noticed for quite some time, which generated the idea for the initiative. People selected as volunteers are master trainers, who generate awareness among the villagers about the benefits of various schemes.
The Joint Secretary said a web portal, Rural Diksha, had been opened recently to register all Bharat Nirman Volunteers with their relevant data. Further, he said Bhilwara in Rajasthan was emerging as a model district and the initiative was being replicated in seven districts in the State. Be­sides, 12 national colloquiums have been organised all over the country so far. A guidebook on the initiative
was also released on the occasion with a call to the volunteers to establish close
contacts with the stakeholder families, help in the implementation of Citizens’ Charters of different departments and gen­erate awareness among the people while solving various problems faced by them.
It is expected that the initiative would help various Government depart‑
ments in serving the identified target groups and ensure public participation by motivating the masses


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