FAISALABAD: Punjab will be the first province to launch multifaceted Labour Card clubbing 14 different features and facilities including purchase of subsidized merchandise and concession in transport and Railway fare.
Addressing the business community in the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), here Sunday, Dr. Syed Bilal Haider Commissioner Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to inaugurate this project during next month. “Labour Card will serve as a debit and ATM card which could also be used for commercial purposes,” he said and added that it could also be used for getting direct access to loans under Punjab Housing Foundation and Akhuwat etc.
“It will ensure at least Rs.15,000 additional financial benefits to the secured workers currently getting minimum wages of Rs.20, 000 to Rs.25,000”, he said and added that 150 commercial organizations have so far agreed to provide 5 to 45 percent discount to the card holders.
He further said that cards to 12, 23000 secured workers would be issued within the next 60 days as its printing has been started in China. He said that a large number of workers are employed in different industrial and commercial organizations but they remained out of the social security net due to the sheer negligence of the department.
He said that PESSI launched a hectic movement but could register only 12, 23000 workers out of 34 lakh workers. “It is a sorry state of affairs that out of these registered workers, PESSI could issue social security cards to only 6,45000 workers”, he said and added that this discrepancy prompted us to launch “Labour Card” to extend best possible facilities to the secured workers.
Dr Syed Bilal Haider said that Punjab has at least 8.5 million domestic workers, out of which we could register only 45,000. He said that two provinces have so far completed legislation in this regard and PESSI intends to expedite their registration process with the help of concerned chambers.
Regarding delay in the payment of workers contributions, he said that the earlier fine was calculated by adding KIBOR plus 45% however, now we have reduced it to KIBOR plus 5% only with exemption of 3 months delay. He said that in this connection new legislation was in process and hopefully a new act would be passed by the Punjab Assembly by January 01, 2022.
About the effective and efficient monitoring of the overall social security system, he said that he has proposed local committees comprising representatives of employees and employers while PESSI staff will assist them.
He said that representatives of workers and factory owners will head this committee on alternative years. He assured that these committees would be given administrative and financial powers to resolve the issues there and then instead of sending these to Lahore.
He said that a new social security hospital in Millat Industrial Estate is under construction and he requested President FCCI Atif Munir Sheikh to formally accept his offer to inaugurate it tentatively on December 25, 2021.
“This hospital is being constructed on Private, Public Partnership mode and he has just sanctioned Rs. 6 million for the purchase of additional equipment for this hospital”, he said and added that a proposal was also under consideration to open social security dispensaries round the clock.
“It will not only help the workers and their families to get medical treatment at their doorstep but also give relief to the over burdened hospitals”, he added.
About self-assessment scheme, he said that this ordinance was enforced on 22 February and so far, 16,500 out of 22,000 industrial and commercial units have availed this facility. He said that the units registered under self-assessment scheme would be immune from the visits of labour, EOBI and Social Security inspectors. He said that a transparent system is being hammered out for the audit of 10% factories.
“Balloting for this purpose will be held in selected chambers which would also be screened in other chambers and trade bodies through online system”, he said and added that in case of closure of any unit, it would be excluded from the contribution portal and if the closure period was more than three months, it would also exempt it from the “Audit Balloting”. Dr Syed Bilal Haider further said that an APP has been introduced to facilitate the secured workers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021