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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Provident funds and Gratuity funds

According to Pakistani law provident fund and gratuity funds are two distinct things.  Provident funds are paid to regular employees and gratuity payments are made to contract employees. Gratuity is a tip for good services and therefore its payment is contingent on successful completion of contract. Employees who are removed on disciplinary basis are not entitled to gratuity payments.

Permanent employees are to be paid provident fund at the end of service irrespective of quality of their services. Hence, removal of permanent employee from employment on disciplinary basis doesn’t disqualify him/her for receiving provident fund.

How these funds work

Employer makes regular payment to these funds and these funds are then invested in variety of securities. The returns generated on these funds are reinvested and generally paid to employees at the end of their term.
Employers register these funds as trusts and appoint the trustee who oversee and invest these funds for the ultimate benefit of beneficiaries.

Tax treatment
These funds are exempt from taxes provided they are registered. Any unregistered fund is to be taxed at reduced rate.

Where these funds are invested
These funds are invested in variety of securities. Generally Govt. securities are preferred for the investment as these are secure and there is smaller risk of default. A small portion of fund can also be invested in equity to generate increased return. The problem faced by the managers of the fund is to strike a balance between return and risk.

Federal Govt provident fund

Federal Govt maintains provident fund for its employees. Finance Ministry has notified new rates for minimum subscription to GP fund. Employees in grade 1 has to pay at least 3% of their average salaries in the fund. From BPS 2 to BPS 11 employees has to subscribe atleasat 5% of their mean salaries into the fund whereas BPS 12 and above will have to contribute on minimum 8% of their mean salaries to the fund.

Govt. pays 11.30 % per annum mark up on the fund to civilian employees serving under ministries other than defense and railway ministry.

Challenges for provident funds/gratuity funds
These funds must earn huge returns to pay off the accruing liabilities. This present a challenge to fund manager (trustee), who has to invest these funds in venues where returns outweigh the risk. With one wrong decision, the fund manager risks millions of workers’ hard earned money. To find a right balance between risk and reward a manager employees the services of financial analysts. These professionals make sure that workers’ hard earned money doesn’t wipe away in market crashes.

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