New Delhi, February 21: Retirement fund body EPFO on Wednesday lowered interest rate on provident fund deposits from 8.65 per cent to 8.55 per cent for its about 5 crore members for 2017-18 at its trustees’ meet. Also Read - EPFO Launches Multi-location Claim Settlement Facility | Here's All You Need to Know

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation had announced 8.65 per cent rate of interest on deposits for 2016-17, a tad lower than 8.8 per cent in 2015- 16. Also Read - 7th Pay Commission Latest News: Govt Releases Rs 868 Crore Pension Along With Rs 105 Crore Arrear

“It is difficult to evaluate about future in view of present economic scenario. We paid 8.65 per cent last fiscal, which left a surplus of Rs 695 crore. This year, we have decided to recommend 8.55 per cent for 2017-18, which will leave a surplus of Rs 586 crore,” Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar told reporter after the EPFO trustees meet. Also Read - EPFO Cuts Interest Rate on Deposits to 8.5 Per Cent For 2019-20

Gangwar, who also heads EPFO’s apex decision making body Central Board of Trustees (CBT), said he expects the finance ministry to give concurrence to the 8.55 per cent rate of interest decided today at the CBT meeting.

After the CBT’s decision on interest rate, the proposal is vetted by the finance ministry. Once approved by the finance ministry, the rate of interest is credited into subscribers’ account.

Gangwar expressed hope that the trade unions will agree to the decision of providing 8.55 per cent rate of interest.

At present, all those units employing 20 or more employees are mandatorily covered under the social security schemes run by the EPFO.

He expressed hopes that reduction in employees threshold could help increase the EPFO subscribers’ base from existing 6 crore to even 9 crore.

On this occasion, the minister also launched the EPFO’s UAN-AADHAAR linking facility for the convenience of the members using EPFO link in UMANG mobile application. This is in addition to existing facility on the website of the EPFO.

With inputs from PTI