Sassa ex­am­in­ing its in-house op­tions

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - FRANCESCA VILLETTE

AS THE SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency’s con­tract with its pay­ment ser­vice provider nears ex­piry, Sassa has as­sured ben­e­fi­cia­ries that they will be paid on time.

Three years ago, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­clared the con­tract for the pay­ment of so­cial grants be­tween Sassa and Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS) in­valid af­ter Sassa failed to en­sure that the em­pow­er­ment cre­den­tials claimed by CPS were ob­jec­tively con­firmed.

The dec­la­ra­tion was sus­pended, how­ever, pend­ing the de­ci­sion on whether to award a new ten­der.

CPS dis­trib­utes so­cial wel­fare grants to more than 9 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries coun­try­wide, and the con­tract ex­pires at the end of March.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini has since es­tab­lished a task team to con­sider tak­ing over the pay­ment of so­cial grants in-house.

Sassa Western Cape spokesper­son Shivani Wa­hab said so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries would be paid as usual, and on time, and there would be no dis­rup­tions.

“Con­sul­ta­tions were held with stake­hold­ers to de­ter­mine what the best model would be, and a so­lu­tion had to be found to min­imise po­ten­tial un­in­tended con­se­quences.

“That process took un­ex­pect­edly longer, given the com­pet­ing busi­ness and other in­ter­ests of in­ter­ested par­ties,” Wa­hab said in a state­ment.

Sassa is this week ex­pected to present to the Na­tional As­sem­bly’s so­cial de­vel­op­ment port­fo­lio com­mit­tee its plan on how so­cial grants will be paid as from April.

So­cial jus­tice group the Black Sash said an in-house ser­vice would be the best op­tion to dis­trib­ute so­cial wel­fare grants.

The group has for years been run­ning a “Hands Off Our Grants Cam­paign” to force Sassa to pre­vent unau­tho­rised de­duc­tions, which hun­dreds of peo­ple have com­plained about.

Group na­tional ad­vo­cacy man­ager El­roy Paulus said the de­tails of the plan to be pre­sented to the com­mit­tee were cru­cial.

“We are keen to see the plan and strat­egy of Sassa and the gov­ern­ment to stop the im­moral, un­law­ful and some­times fraud­u­lent de­duc­tions by April 1.

“We re­main con­vinced that in­sourc­ing re­mains the best strat­egy to deal with these de­duc­tions once and for all,” he added.

“We are also keen to see Sassa and the gov­ern­ment’s plan to stop and ad­dress the in­debt­ed­ness of grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries caused by loans and fraud­u­lent and un­law­ful de­duc­tions from the ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” Paulus said.

PIC­TURE: GCIS

‘NO DIS­RUP­TIONS’: Siqhin­geni res­i­dent Pa­tri­cia Vukaphi, 64, reg­is­tered a so­cial grant for her sev­enyear-old grand­daugh­ter with Sassa’s mobile truck. Sassa pledged that there would be no dis­rup­tions in the pay­ment of wel­fare grants to ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

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