Retirement fund body the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) may lower the interest rate on deposits to 8.6% for over 4.7 crore subscribers for 2011-12 to match it with the rate of public provident fund (PPF) scheme.
The EPFO had provided 9.5% interest rate to its subscribers for 2010-11 after it found Rs 1,731 crore surplus in its books of account.
"The Labour Ministry will soon be sending a note to the Finance Ministry, recommending 8.6% rate of interest on provident fund deposits to EPFO subscribers for this fiscal as provided under PPF scheme," a source privy to the development said.
The source said the ministry wants bring the EPFO's rate of return on par with the PPF rate.
According to the EPFO's income projections, if the body provides 8.25% interest for 2011-12, it would leave a deficit of a Rs 24 lakh. It had further pointed out that an 8.5% rate of return would translate into a deficit of Rs 526.44 crore.
But, the Labour Ministry may factor in estimation error, which could spare around Rs 400 crore. This amount would be sufficient to pay an additional 0.25% over the projected 8.25% rate of return this fiscal.
Moreover, the source said that about Rs 15,000 crore is lying in inoperative accounts which has been invested and is yielding returns. EPFO has not yet decided whether the return on these accounts would be distributed among live accounts.
Inoperative accounts are those accounts that have not received any contribution for 36 months or more. EPFO had stopped payment of interest to such accounts from April 1, 2011.