EPF opens door for informal sector workers, self-employed

Kathmandu, December 8

Self-employed and other people who are working in the informal sector will soon get the opportunity to open a savings account at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). The EPF, which at present has been providing the savings facility only to government employees and employees of organised institutions that have 10 or more permanent staffers, has opened the door for all individuals who want to save a portion of their earnings in the government-owned financial institution.

According to Rajendra Kafle, acting chief officer at EPF, self-employed and those people who are working in the informal sector will get the opportunity to save their income at EPF within the current fiscal year. “We have incorporated the provision of including self-employed and informal sector employees in our provident fund scheme through an amendment of the EPF Act,” he informed.

EPF is preparing the procedure and guidelines for implementing the new provision. According to Kafle, the EPF will finalise the legal provision as soon as possible and open the scheme for the newly included group.

Housemaids, agriculture-based workers and migrant workers would be allowed to save their money at EPF. Similarly, engineers, doctors and chartered accountants have also been defined as self-employed and they also can save their money at EPF. “The amended act incorporates multiple sectors of society,” Kafle said. “Our base of depositors will be strong after including people from informal sector and those who are self-employed.”

Currently, 600,000 people are saving their money at EPF. Kafle hopes that after implementing the new provision another 200,000 people will be added annually as depositors at the institution.

At present, EPF has liquidity of Rs 200 billion that can be utilised for investments. The government entity is currently investing in the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project and three other hydropower projects being constructed by Chilime Hydropower Company.

Similarly, EPF has also received the licence to construct 680-megawatt Betan Karnali Hydropower project and it will be constructing the project solely with its funds. It has also agreed to provide loan to Nepal Airlines Corporation to purchase new aircraft.