Punjab To Launch Multifaceted Labor Card By Next Month: PESSI Chief

Punjab to launch multifaceted Labor Card by next month: PESSI chief

FAISALABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Nov, 2021 ) :Punjab will be the first province to launch multifaceted Labour Card clubbing 14 different features and facilities including purchase of subsidised essential items and concession in transport and Railways fare.

Addressing the business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) here on Friday, Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) Commissioner Dr Bilal Haider said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was expected to inaugurate the project during the next month.

"The 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 be used for getting direct access to loans under Punjab Housing Foundation and Akhuwat, etc.

He said: "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," adding that 150 commercial organisations have so far agreed to provide 5 to 45 per cent discount to the card holders.

He said that 1,223,000 cards would be provided to secured workers within the next 60 days. He said that a large number of workers were employed in different industrial and commercial organisations, but they remained out of the social security net due to negligence of the department.

He said that PESSI had launched a movement but could register only 1,223,000 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 645,000 workers," he said and added that the discrepancy prompted the government to launch the Labour Card to extend the best possible facilities to the secured workers. Bilal Haider said that Punjab has at least 8.5 million domestic workers, out of which the department 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 chambers concerned.

Regarding delay in the payment of workers contributions, he said that the earlier fine was calculated by adding KIBOR (Karachi Interbank Offered Rate) plus 45%; however, now the department had reduced it to KIBOR plus 5% only with exemption of three 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 1, 2022.

About the effective and efficient monitoring of the overall social security system, he said that he had proposed local committees comprising representatives of employees and employers while PESSI staff would assist them. He said that representatives of workers and factory owners would head this committee on alternative years. He promised that the committees would be given administrative and financial powers to resolve the issues there and then instead of sending those to Lahore.

He said that a new social security hospital in Millat Industrial Estate was under construction and he had requested FCCI President Atif Munir Sheikh to formally accept his offer to inaugurate it tentatively on Dec 25, 2021. "This hospital is being constructed on private-public partnership mode and he had just sanctioned Rs 6 million for the purchase of additional equipment for the 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 overburdened hospitals," he added.

About self-assessment scheme, he said that the ordinance was enforced on Feb 22 and so far, 16,500, out of 22,000, industrial and commercial units had availed the 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 the 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 Bilal said that an app has been introduced to facilitate the secured workers. "They would have to produce only one certificate to get the required facilities, which would be ensured positively within 10 days," he said and added that Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Cardiology Hospital Lahore was the first public sector hospital in Punjab that had been fully digitalised. He said that in order to redress the long-standing demand of medical staff, 154 specialists and 450 doctors have been recruited on a permanent basis and hopefully they would resume their duties in December. "They would enjoy permanent status and certainly serve the secured workers with more devotion and commitment," he hoped. He said that a burns centre had been approved for Shahdara Hospital Lahore while the next burn centre would be established in Faisalabad. "Similarly, the government has approved establishment of three new medical colleges in Faisalabad, Lahore and Multan," he disclosed.

Earlier, FCCI President Atif Munir Sheikh introduced Faisalabad and the chamber and said that the city would emerge as hub of industry after the completion of M3 and Allama Iqbal Industrial estates.

Later, Chaudhry Muhammad Nawaz, along with President Atif Munir Sheikh, presented the FCCI shield to Commissioner Social Security Dr Bilal Haider.