NEW DELHI: The number of provident fund accounts closed between April-December of the current financial year has increased by 6.5% to 71 lakh, when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was at its peak and job losses were reported.
The number of accounts closed during the first nine months of 2019-2020 added up to 66.7 lakh. An EPF account is closed for a variety of reasons including retirement, job loss or a change in employment. There are over 5 crore active EPF accounts.
Withdrawals, however, rose by over 33% to Rs 73,498 crore during the nine months of the current financial year compared with Rs 55,125 crore in the corresponding period last year, Labour and employment minister Santosh Gangwar said in Lok Sabha on Monday, while responding to a question by Congress’ MP Abdul Khaleque.
With the coronavirus pandemic throwing up unprecedented challenges, businesses facing closure and unemployment levels rising, partial withdrawals from the EPFO also surged in 2020. While the number of partial withdrawals in 2019 were pegged at 54.4 lakh, the numbers more than doubled to 1.3 crore partial withdrawals in 2020.
The government had opened a special window allowing Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) subscribers to dip into their retirement savings to tide over the corona crisis. In fact, individuals were allowed to withdraw up to 75% of their kitty, a facility which has been availed by many who lost their jobs.