SASSA ben­e­fi­cia­ries smil­ing all the way to the bank

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - No­luthando Motswai

SO­CIal GraNTS

about two mil­lion South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (SASSA) ben­e­fi­cia­ries have had their grant money paid di­rectly into their bank or post of­fice ac­count thanks to the agency’s de­ci­sion to make elec­tronic pay­ments.

“It is part of fully com­ply­ing with or­ders from the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and phas­ing out Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS), the cur­rent ser­vice provider,” said SASSA’s na­tional spokesper­son Paseka Let­satsi.

In March last year the Con­sti­tu­tional Court ex­tended SASSA’s con­tract with CPS for a year to ful­fil the con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion of pay­ing so­cial grants to ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court also or­dered SASSA to ad­vise ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the ben­e­fits of hav­ing their grant paid di­rectly into their bank or post of­fice ac­count.

CPS is re­spon­si­ble for the distri­bu­tion of so­cial grants to over 17 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Its con­tract would have come to an end on 31 March 2017 but the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare has ap­proached the Con­sti­tu­tional Court re­quest­ing that CPS con­tinue pay­ing some re­cip­i­ents af­ter that date.

The phase in phase out ap­proach to the CPS con­tract has led to a num­ber of changes al­ready planned or im­ple­mented.

From 1 March 2018 SASSA will be able to di­rectly de­posit the grants into about 5.7 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries’ ac­counts.

“This will bring about 80 per­cent of pay­ment trans­ac­tions un­der the con­trol of SASSA by the end of March 2018,” Let­satsi said.

SASSA is ne­go­ti­at­ing with the bank­ing in­dus­try to de­velop a low-cost bank ac­count, which will be sub­sidised by SASSA, so that ben­e­fi­cia­ries get the full value of their grants without pay­ing bank charges.

“Th­ese ac­counts will not al­low elec­tronic deb­its and are in­tended to pro­tect ben­e­fi­cia­ries from unau­tho­rised deb­its, which have been a prob­lem in the past.”

By April, the only ben­e­fi­cia­ries whose pay­ments won't fall un­der SASSA’s di­rect con­trol are those paid in cash at SASSA pay points.

“SASSA has al­ready gone to the mar­ket for the cash pay­ment cat­e­gory by ad­ver­tis­ing a ten­der. This rep­re­sents just less than three mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” he said.

SASSA also con­ducted a coun­try­wide aware­ness cam­paign to in­form ben­e­fi­cia­ries about th­ese ini­tia­tives and to elim­i­nate fake mes­sages do­ing the rounds which state that ben­e­fi­cia­ries must swop cards.

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