The Indian Church’s labor commission has come out with a plan to enable casual workers to capitalize on the federal government’s New Pension Scheme (NPS). Its aim is to provide social security to the economically weaker sections, says Father Jose Vattakuzhy, director of the Workers Federation of India (WFI), the legal body of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India for non-unionised workers. Under the scheme, the government will contribute 1,000 rupees (US$ 22.70) to a worker for a year until 2014, provided the subscriber contributes 1,000-2,000 rupees. The scheme is like the provident fund for employed people and the money deposited would attract market rates of interest. The casual sector contributes over 60 percent of India’s gross domestic product, yet 94 percent of people in this category have no collective bargaining capacity nor any social security, said Father Vattakuzhy. He says all this is set to change since the WFI has come up with an employees’ social security plan along with the NPS scheme. A major hurdle in implementing any government scheme for the poor is lack of proof of identity, he said. “We will arrange to provide identity cards to those who don’t have them and ensure as many of the 520 million workers in the unorganized sector as possible take advantage of the scheme,” he said. Workers in the unorganized sector, including self-employed, between 18-60 years and not covered under any pension scheme can join this scheme. The account matures after a worker reaches the age of 50 or puts in 20 years of work, whichever is later. “We will have facilitation centers at all 164 dioceses in the country for dissemination of information and enrolment of members,” the priest said. The WFI will also provide a nominal insurance of 25,000 rupees for accidental death, the priest added.
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