During his speech at the time of presenting the budget, Hon’ble Finance Minister said that both the EPF and ESI had “hostages, rather than clients”. As this was contrary to truth, it was considered necessary to ascertain the basis on which the Ministry of Finance had included such a phrase in the speech of the Hon’ble Minister. It is in the interest of the working population to identify the caucus that caused such a term to be planted in the Budget speech.
An application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 has, therefore, been sent to the Ministry of Finance on 09.04.2015. Readers will be informed of the developments as and when reply is received from the Ministry of Finance.
The text of the application is as follows:
Mr. C.K. Ramaswamy,
Under Secretary (Budget Division),
Central Public Information Officer,
Ministry of Finance,
Room NO. 237,
New Delhi – 110001
Sub: Application under Sec.6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 – Speech of the Hon’ble Minister of Finance at the time of presentation of Budget – information – requested.
I would like to reproduced the following paragraph from the speech delivered by Hon’ble Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitely while presenting the Budget of the Government in the Parliament on 28.02.2015:
“61. Madam Speaker the situation with regard to the dormant Employees Provident Fund (EPF) accounts and the claim ratios of ESIs is too well known to be repeated here. It has been remarked that both EPF and ESI have hostages, rather than clients. Further, the low paid worker suffers deductions greater than the better paid workers, in percentage terms…”
Hon’ble Minister has said
1. that the ESI Corporation does “have hostages, rather than clients” and
2. that the “low paid worker suffers deductions greater than the better-paid workers, in percentage terms”.
Both observations are not true, as we know. Because, the provisions for Exemptions enshrined in the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, provide for exemptions from the coverage of the Act, to the factories or establishments, if only the employers make available benefits that are ‘substantially similar or superior’ to those provided by the ESI Act.
Getting such exemptions is a matter of right for the employers, as assured by the Act itself. It is so simple. There is a format in the ESIC offices for this purpose. There are three columns in it. The first one lists out the benefits provided by the ESI Scheme. The next column is to be filled in by the employer recording the benefits that he provides. The third column is intended to be filled by the employer wherein he would say whether, in his own assessment, the benefits provided by him are ‘substantially similar’ or ‘superior’. The employers must assess themselves first that way, before coming to the ESI Corporation for exemption. The ESIC will examine them and on being satisfied that the benefits provided by the employer are ‘substantially similar or superior’, recommend the case to the Central or State Government, as the case may be, for exemption.
But, in fact, none of the employers in the private sector could provide the package of benefits superior to those provided under the ESI Scheme. It is only the unwillingness of the employers to provide better benefits that keeps the employees within the fold of the ESI Scheme. Even the newspaper, The Hindu, an employer covered under the ESI Scheme, has, editorially, acknowledged, on 01.01.2005, that the package of benefits given by ESIC can rarely be matched by private employers.
So, in all probability, Hon’ble Minister might have, deliberately, been misled by various persons with vested interests, for ulterior reasons to belittle an organization of national importance. I, therefore, request you to kindly supply the following information under Sec. 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005:
Kindly supply the copies of
(a) the filenotings, if any, received by the Ministry of Finance from the Ministry of Labour or
(b) communications, if any, received from other sources
based on which the contents of the aforesaid para 61 had been included in the Speech of the Hon’ble Finance Minister.
I send herewith Postal Order for Rs. 20 (Rupees twenty only) drawn in favour of the Pay & Accounts Officer, Department of Economic Affairs, New Delhi, Rs. 10 being the fee payable under the RTI Act, 2005 and the remaining Rs. 10 towards the photocopying charges of the filenotings or communications to be supplied.