Pension eludes construction workers as Welfare Board faces fund crunch

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board has not been paying pension and other benefits to its members for the past six months as it does not have the necessary funds despite collecting amounts upwards of Rs 10,000 from building owners as cess at the time of construction.

The last time the monthly pension of Rs 1,600 was paid was in August last year.

Since that time, various benefits including the pension payable to the members have been stopped after the board went into a financial crisis.

A total of 20,73,178 people have registered themselves as members of the board. In August 2022, a total number of 3,60,226 members received the pension. An amount of Rs 57.63 crore is required for this purpose every month.

Estimates show that Rs 280 crore had been collected towards the Construction Workers Welfare Fund in the form of cess and share from workers from 2015. An amount of Rs 22 crore was collected in the 2022-23 financial year alone.

An amount of Rs 600 is collected from the workers as their share at the rate of Rs 50 per month.

The benefits given by the board are: Rs 800 as family pension, Rs 1,600 as financial aid for those in distress, Rs 10,000 as marriage assistance, Rs 15,000 as maternity assistance, and up to Rs 5,000 as aid for medical treatment for normal diseases. All these have stopped.

How the cess is collected

The pension and other benefits to the workers are given out of the funds collected from the owners when the buildings are constructed.

The cess is 1 per cent of the total construction expenditure of buildings that cost above Rs 10 lakh. Buildings that were constructed before November 1995 and those houses built under the LIFE Mission project do not attract cess. However, if they cost above Rs 10 lakh, the cess is chargeable.

When ownership certificates are issued for buildings that are liable to pay the cess under the Buildings and Other Constructions Workers Welfare Cess Rules of 1996, the local self-governments must give a copy of the certificate to the labour officer. It is the labour officers who serve the notice and collect the cess amount. The owner must initially pay the permit fee. He must remit other fees after the completion of the buildings and pay the annual property tax to the local self-government.

In addition to this, the land tax must be paid to the Revenue Department. The cess is over and above all this.

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