More payouts to injured miners after reforms by Barry Kistnasamy
The Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) has steadily increased the number of payouts to injured miners over the past three years, a trend that suggests the reforms instituted by commissioner Barry Kistnasamy have turned the troubled fund around.
The CCOD provides compensation to miners who contract lung diseases at work, and was virtually dysfuctional when Kistnasamy was appointed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in 2012.
He introduced a series of interventions, including the development of an electronic database to replace the chaotic paper records held by the CCOD, ensuring records could be obtained from the mine-worker recruitment agency Teba at no cost. He also worked with the mining industry to launch one-stop service centres to help former mine workers finalise their claims.
The CCOD had doubled the number of payouts in the 2017-18 financial year compared to the year before, Kistnasamy told Parliament on Thursday. A total of 10,324 miners and former mine workers received a collective R254m in 2017-18, compared to R204m paid to 5,259 claimants the year before. This is a steady improvement on the R79.3m paid out to 1,766 claimants in 2015-16.
"We have had major successes," he told Parliament’s portfolio committee on health. Claims for loss of earnings for miners with TB had been fast-tracked, and constituted a significant portion of the payouts in 2017-18, he said.
Compensation benefits for new claimants will increase by 33.8% as of April, he said, noting that the last time benefits were increased was in 2009.
Kistnasamy said the CCOD’s budget allocation from Treasury was insufficient for the task at hand, and posed a risk to its performance. The CCOD’s allocation rises to R200.2m in 2018-19 from R194.6m in 2017-18, a nominal increase of just 2.9%. Over the medium-term expenditure framework, its allocation from the Treasury is, however, expected to keep pace with inflation, and is set to rise by on average 6% a year between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
The CCOD’s budget is supplemented by the revenue it raises from controlled mines and works, but the levies were too low, and many mines did not pay their dues, said Kistnasamy. As a result, the CCOD is heavily dependent on the support it receives from the mining industry, he said.
The Chamber of Mines has seconded medical doctors to the CCOD and provided staff and technical resources.
A total of 28% of the 252 registered controlled mines and works did not pay levies in 2016-17, according to the CCOD’s annual performance plan, which has been tabled in parliament.