Government’s social security body Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on Sunday approved a proposal to invest its surplus funds in the stock market through exchange traded funds (ETFs).

The decision was taken in the 189th meeting of ESIC held on Sunday at ESIC headquarters under the chairmanship of Union labour minister Bhupender Yadav, a labour ministry statement said.

Due to relatively low returns on investments in various debt instruments coupled with the need to diversify investment, ESIC gave its approval for investments of surplus funds in equities restricted to ETFs.

The investment will start with 5 per cent of surplus funds and will increase up to 15 per cent, based on the review of the investment after two quarters, it stated.

The investment will be confined to Exchanged Traded Funds on Nifty and Sensex. It will be managed by fund managers of asset management companies (AMSs), the statement said.

Equity investments will be monitored by the existing custodian, external concurrent auditor and consultant looking after the debt investments, it said.

Acknowledging the increase in the number of insured workers and their dependents coming under the ambit of ESI Scheme, Yadav directed ESIC to focus on strengthening the infrastructure.

He further informed that the ‘Nirman Se Shakti’ initiative has been started to strengthen and modernise the infrastructure of ESIC hospitals and dispensaries in a phased manner.

During the meeting, Rameswar Teli, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, informed that the latest technologies are proposed to be adopted by ESIC for construction and monitoring of projects using drones and an online real-time dashboard.

In order to improve the healthcare benefits and service delivery mechanism and strengthen the infrastructure of ESIC towards managing the increasing number of insured workers, ESIC approved the proposals for setting up a new 100-bed ESIC hospital at Shyamlibazar in Agartala, Tripura and a 100-bed hospital at Idukki, Kerala.

The hospitals at Agartala and Idukki will cater to the medical needs of around 60,000 beneficiaries each.

Considering the significant increase in the number of candidates for admissions in ESIC medical institutions, the corporation approved the proposal of increasing the number of seats under the insured persons (IPs) category in two of its ESIC nursing colleges at Gulbarga and Bengaluru.

Further, the ESI Corporation also approved the proposal to start Ph.D, MDS, nursing and paramedical courses at its medical institutions spread across the country, it stated.

ESIC also gave in-principal approval for execution of Annual Repair Maintenance & Operational work (ARMO) and Special Repair (SR) works by the engineering wing under the Project Management Division (PMD) of ESI Corporation.

It was also decided to execute the capital works in ESIC through central/ state public sector units (PSUs) besides CPWD. A fresh empanelment of such central/state PSUs will be invited by the ESIC in due course.

Two winners of the architectural design competition for a proposed 500-bed ESIC hospital at Manesar were felicitated by the Union labour minister with a prize money of 2 lakh and 1.5 lakh, respectively.

The design competition was announced when the foundation stone was laid for the hospital. Similar competitions are being organised for the proposed ESIC hospitals at Sanand and Kalol in Gujarat.

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