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EPFO fast-tracks claims for education, marriage & housing

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New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) EPFO has now extended its quicker auto-mode system to cover advance claims for expenses on education, marriage and housing as well in order to facilitate ease of living for its members, according to an official statement issued on Monday.

“EPFO has introduced an Auto Claim Solution in which a claim is processed automatically by the IT system without any human intervention. To facilitate “Ease of living”, the auto claim solution has now been extended for all claims under para 68K (education & marriage purpose) and 68B (housing purpose) of EPF Scheme, 1952. In addition, the limit has been doubled from earlier Rs 50,000/- to Rs1,00,000/-. This move is expected to benefit lakhs of EPFO members,” the statement said.

Auto mode of claim settlement was first introduced in April, 2020, for the purpose of advance for illness. Now this limit has been enhanced to Rs1,00,000/-. During the current year, around 2.25 crore members are expected to reap the benefits of this facility.

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During the financial year 2023-24, EPFO settled around 4.45 crore claims, out of which more than 60 per cent (2.84 crore) claims were advance claims. Out of total advance claims settled during the year, around 89.52 lakh claims were settled using auto-mode.

Any claim with KYC, eligibility and bank validation is processed for payment by IT tools automatically. As a result of this, the periodicity of claim settlement is reduced significantly from 10 days to within 3-4 days for such advances. The claims that are not validated by the system are not returned or rejected. They are undertaken for a second level of scrutiny and approvals, the statement explained.

The expansion of the scope of the auto claims was introduced on 6th May 2024 pan India and since then EPFO has approved 13,011 cases valued at a total of Rs 45.95 crores vide this initiative providing speedy service, the statement added.

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–IANS

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RBI warns ARCs over evergreening distressed assets

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Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) The RBI has found several instances of Asset Reconstruction Companies, which have been set up to recover NPAs of banks, not fulfilling their role but instead using innovative ways to structure transactions in order to circumvent regulations.

The RBI has sent a clear message to ARC chiefs that they must follow the regulations in both letter and spirit.

“During the course of our onsite examinations, we have come across instances where ARCs have been used or allowed themselves to be used as a conduit to evergreen distressed assets. In many cases, there is a lack of transparency and consistency in the issuance and periodical valuation of Security Receipts (SRs). The practices surrounding levy of management fee leaves much to be desired,” RBI Deputy Governor Swaminathan J said at a meeting with ARCs recently.

He pointed out that some ARCs while enjoying the full benefits of the special position granted to them under the SARFAESI Act and the RBI regulations, have been found to be using innovative ways to structure transactions in order to circumvent regulations.

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Swaminathan also warned that in extreme cases, the RBI may be forced to take regulatory or supervisory actions.

He pointed out that with regulations shifting towards a more principles-based approach, supervision is required to focus more on the substance of transactions rather than their legal form.

The RBI Deputy Governor urged ARC chiefs to adopt a regulation-plus approach where you not only comply with the letter of the regulation but also its spirit.

After a perusal of the scorecard of ARCs, the RBI has concluded that there are more missed opportunities and less than optimal performance by ARCs in fulfilling the principal mandates under the SARFAESI Act.

ARCs enjoy a special place in the financial ecosystem as they are special purpose vehicles set up to help lighten the banking system from the high-value NPAs and are also specialised agencies for maximising recovery and reconstruction efforts.

–IANS

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Pluckk clocks Rs 100 cr ARR, aims to double revenue in 12 months

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Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Pluckk, a pioneering digital lifestyle-oriented fresh food brand, has concluded FY24 with an Annualised Revenue Runrate (ARR) of Rs 100 crore.

Operating in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune, Pluckk is available on over eight marketplace platforms, connecting farmers to half a million homes and delivering over 2 million products every month.

The brand’s impressive growth trajectory can be attributed to strategic partnerships with leading industry giants such as Amazon, Swiggy, Zepto, and Blinkit. Additionally, the acquisition of KOOK, a prominent Indian food-tech startup specialising in DIY Meal Kits, has considerably expanded Pluckk’s product range and strengthened revenue figures. Bollywood icon Kareena Kapoor Khan’s involvement as an investor and brand ambassador has further enhanced Pluckk’s market presence and brand recognition.

Commenting on the company’s growth, Nelson D’Souza, CFO of Pluckk, said, “We are optimistic about our growth projections owing to our innovative approach and strategic initiatives, as well as the evolving landscape of the digital F&V market. Pluckk is on a high-growth trajectory, with plans to double its revenues within 12 months and expand its presence to 15 cities over the next three years.”

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With its listing on ONDC, Pluckk now serves a customer base of 5 lakh. A key factor in Pluckk’s success is its innovative tech team, which has developed several advanced technologies. These include a vendor portal for farmers to list their products, traceability of products from over 1,000 partner farms, ozone washing for fruits to ensure cleanliness, and Brix tech for testing the degree of sweetness of fruit. Additionally, the team has implemented AI systems for quality and size checks, auto pricing algorithms for optimal pricing, efficient delivery routing, and live order tracking to manage stock availability across cities.

“We believe in leveraging technology to enhance every aspect of our operations. From ensuring product quality to optimising delivery routes, our tech innovations are central to our success and customer satisfaction. Our goal is to make fresh food easily accessible and to provide a seamless shopping experience for our customers,” added D’Souza.

The company is also making significant investments in its own app to further enhance customer experience.

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Pluckk’s commitment to quality and innovation continues to drive its growth, promising a robust future in the digital fresh food market.

–IANS

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Robotics firm DiFACTO raises Rs 40 cr from Stakeboat Capital

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Robotics and automation solutions provider DiFACTO on Wednesday said it secured Rs 40 crore from private equity firm Stakeboat Capital in its Series A round.

The funds will be used to fuel the company’s growth and strengthen its market position.

“India’s automotive industry is one of the many areas that leverage robotic automation. It is expected to experience a CAGR of 12.7 per cent, reaching $512 billion by 2026. It is also poised to contribute 12 per cent of our nation’s GDP,” Ajay Gopalswamy, Founder and CEO of DiFACTO, said in a statement.

“With our established market dominance and track record, we see a strong growth trajectory here,” he added.

With three factories in Bengaluru and branches in Pune and Gurugram, DiFACTO operates globally, including a wholly-owned subsidiary in Troy, Michigan, US.

Presently, the company operates across four key segments — welding systems, material handling systems, foundry and machine tending systems, and fluid dispensing systems.

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“DiFACTO’s innovative approach and unwavering commitment to excellence perfectly align with Stakeboat Capital’s vision for driving growth and transformation in the robotic automation space,” said Chandrasekar Kandasamy, Managing Partner of Stakeboat Capital.

DiFACTO has delivered more than 1,000 projects for 300 customers across 15 countries.

Srinivas Baratam, Managing Director, Stakeboat Capital, believes that initiatives such as Make in India and increased focus on manufactured exports will lead to a shortage of skilled manpower available to the sector.

–IANS

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Muthoot Pappachan Group announces Shah Rukh Khan as new brand ambassador

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Muthoot Pappachan Group (MPG), a 137-year-old leading business conglomerate in India, popularly known as Muthoot Blue, on Wednesday announced Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador.

This strategic collaboration represents a significant milestone for MPG, reinforcing its brand presence and a new way of connecting with a diverse audience across India.

“It’s a significant milestone for us. Shah Rukh doesn’t just bring his star power — he also embodies the humility and self-made success that align with our core values,” said Thomas John Muthoot, Chairman of Muthoot Pappachan Group.

“Shah Rukh Khan’s journey mirrors our commitment to making services accessible at various touchpoints across our companies, reinforcing our mission to empower the common man across the nation. His life story perfectly illustrates the power of dreaming big and realising those dreams,” he added.

In his role as the group’s brand ambassador, Shah Rukh Khan will be seen in MPG’s campaigns across multiple channels, promoting their services. These campaigns aim to showcase a range of financial products and services, echoing the group’s commitment towards revolutionising access and streamlining convenience for all.

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“Joining the esteemed Muthoot Pappachan Group as their brand ambassador is an exciting step. With a century-long legacy, MPG has immensely contributed to India’s financial landscape. I look forward to inspiring individuals across the country to dream big as MPG turns those dreams into reality, with their easily accessible bouquet of products,” Shah Rukh Khan said.

This collaboration demonstrates MPG’s outlook and firm dedication to fostering the country’s financial growth and aspirations. Shah Rukh Khan’s iconic status further magnifies this narrative, resonating with customers across all age groups, while inspiring them to dream big.

“Shah Rukh Khan represents more than just fame; he embodies humility and self-made triumph. He connects with our target audience as an ordinary individual who dreamed big and turned his dreams into reality,” said Shaji Varghese, CEO of Muthoot FinCorp Limited.

Muthoot Pappachan Group is the promoter of the country’s leading NBFCs including Muthoot FinCorp Limited (flagship Company of the Group), Muthoot Microfin Limited, Muthoot Capital Services Limited and Muthoot Housing Finance Company Limited.

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As Muthoot Pappachan Group moves towards heralding a future where financial inclusion is within reach for all, having Shah Rukh Khan as their new brand ambassador plays a significant role in achieving this milestone.

–IANS

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South Korea's KT SAT partners Rivada Space to expand LEO satellite service

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Seoul, May 29 (IANS) KT SAT Co., the satellite service arm of South Korea’s telecom giant KT Corp., on Wednesday said it has partnered with a German low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite company to strengthen its service capacity.

KT SAT signed a memorandum of understanding with Rivada Space Networks as its third partner for expanding its LEO satellite service, following its previous deals with US space firm SpaceX’s Starlink and Britain’s Eutelsat OneWeb, Yonhap news agency reported.

The Korean company said it plans to provide an ultra-speed satellite network to the military, government, and financial sector using Rivada’s high-security inter-satellite link service.

Rivada plans to launch 600 satellites into low Earth orbit by 2028.

“KT SAT will work to take the helm of the future satellite communications market by finding prominent cooperation partners like Rivada and swiftly provide differentiated solutions as well as non-geostationary orbit satellite resources,” its CEO Seo Young-soo said.

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–IANS

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