Sassa submits its required progress report to the Constitutional Court
The inter-ministerial committee on comprehensive social security is working collaboratively to ensure implementation of the Constitutional Court orders on the withdrawal of service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) from the payment of social grants, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Friday.
At a media briefing, the minister was flanked by other members of the committee, namely Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, as well as by Social Security Agency of SA (Sassa) interim CEO, Pearl Bhengu, and the director-generals of social development, and telecommunications and postal services.
Dlamini said her department and Sassa were ready to comply with the September 15 deadline to submit a report to the Constitutional Court. "The government has moved swiftly and with determination to ensure these orders are implemented efficiently and diligently," Dlamini said.
The inter-ministerial committee was established by President Jacob Zuma in March to provide impetus and political oversight to ensure full compliance with the orders and the takeover of social grant payments from CPS by end-March 2018.
The ultimate aim is for Sassa to undertake the payments itself, although this insourcing programme will take five years to implement.
"The insourcing and integration of the grants administration and payment value chain is an enormous task that requires time, high level specialised skills, and resources that are currently not readily available. The gradual phasing-in of these process will ensure a seamless transition," Dlamini said.
The government has moved swiftly and with determination to ensure these orders are implemented efficiently and diligently
She said that the due diligence undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as to the ability of the South African Post Office to play a supportive role in the takeover process had been completed. The bid evaluation committee will consider its report on September 20 with the final decision being announced by the end of next week.
Dlamini also announced that Sassa was in the process of re-activating its paymaster general account with the South African Reserve Bank so that the money transferred monthly by Treasury for the payment of social grants was not deposited into a CPS bank account, as is currently the case. The change would give Sassa direct oversight of the funds in the account.
Plans are also underway for Sassa to manage the in-house deductions of premiums for funeral insurance policies from social grants from next month. Social grant beneficiaries take out these policies of their own accord with insurance companies. There have been a lot of complaints by beneficiaries who say they did not approve the deductions for the funeral policies.
Bhengu said Sassa, in taking over the management of these deductions, would ensure the law limiting them to 10% of grant amounts would be implemented. Beneficiaries would also have to confirm that they want the funeral cover.
CPS is to provide Sassa with a full list of all beneficiaries whose grants are paid into their commercial bank accounts by the end of the month.