Efforts afoot to include informal labourers, expats in EOBI pension net: Senate body told

ISLAMABAD: The efforts are afoot to include informal labourers and Pakistani expatriates in the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) pension net.

EOBI Chairman Azhar Hameed told this to the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, headed by Senator Hilal-ur-Rehman on Wednesday.

“We have submitted a summary in the Ministry of Law and Justice to bring amendment in the EOBI Act, 1976 for ensuring inclusion of informal workforce and overseas Pakistanis in the pension fund, ” he said while sharing details of the department’s investment portfolio and assets with the committee.

He said the amendment, once approved by the law ministry, would be tabled in the Parliament through Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development. The amendment was also meant to revise the rate of registered employers’ contributions, he added.

“We will launch the ETI (EOBI Transformative Initiative) project shortly to create mass awareness for maximum registration of formal workers, ” the chairman said when Senator Samina Saeed pointed out low number of formal workers registered with the EOBI so far.

Azhar said at the moment, there were at least 70 million formal and informal workers in the country. According to the labour survey conducted in 2017, the country owned 65 million labourers in multiple sectors, he added.

He said the number of EOBI registered pension stood at 400, 000 which would soon be increased with inclusive initiatives of the present management.

To this, the chairman committee directed the EOBI to step up its efforts for raising the number of its pensioners.

Azhar said a digital payment mechanism had been launched to enable its registered employers for online submission of their monthly contribution. The inter-bank facility would help the EOBI to generate additional Rs2.5 billion every year, he added.

Highlighting the pro-pensioners initiative of present management, he said the EOBI had recently partnered with the Utility Stores Corporation to offer 10 per cent discount to its registered pensioners and insurees on five staple foods such as sugar, wheat flour, oil and others. The facility would be available by the start of September this year, he added.

The chairman said a Memorandum of Understanding had also been signed with Bank Al-Falah to ensure provision of pensions to the old and bed-ridden pensioners at their door-step.

He said the EOBI was also negotiating with a company to offer health and life insurance to its pensioners. Low-cost housing and subsidized railway fares were among other initiatives which were in the offing.

To a query, Azhar said the EOBI achieved target of its revenue collection during the last fiscal year. Rs21.5 billion were collected in term of contributions, he added.

He said the premier pension fund agency had raised its investment portfolio to Rs362.703 billion from Rs331.579 billion during the last three years through informed decisions and better management.