"I want to personally allay fears" on matter of social grants

Friday, February 16, 2018

Newly-elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has allayed fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of social grants.

Delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament, Cape Town, on Friday, President Ramaphosa said government will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court.

“Social grants remain a vital lifeline for millions of our people living in poverty. We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with the directions of the Constitutional Court.

“We will finalise work on a permanent public sector-led hybrid model, which will allow a set of public and private sector service providers to offer beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience,” President Ramaphosa said.

More than 17 million social grants are paid each month, benefiting nearly a third of the poor population through various social grants.

Government provides social assistance through social relief of distress grants, grants-in-aid, child support grants, foster care grants, care dependency grants, war veterans grants, disability grants and the grant for older persons. The grants play a critical role in pushing back poverty and providing a much needed safety net for many families.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Social Security, led by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, announced in December that an agreement was reached between parties in the IMC to pave the way for the implementation of a hybrid grant payment model

Under the new mode, the South African Post Office (SAPO) would provide services such as electronic banking services, including the provision of a central holding account and special disbursement accounts, on-boarding of new beneficiaries and the biometric authentication of beneficiaries.

The State-owned entity would also be responsible for the development of the required software solution to replace the incumbent systems as well as provide cash pay points at its outlets.

This comes after the Constitutional Court gave SASSA a deadline to deliver a comprehensive plan to the court by 8 December 2017, detailing how it will pay more than 17 million grant recipients.

In March last year, the Constitutional Court extended SASSA’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for a year in order to fulfil the constitutional obligation of paying social grants to beneficiaries.

Its contract, which was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, would have come to an end on 31 March 2017. The court, however, suspended the contract’s invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA made another plan for 1 April 2018.

Meanwhile, the SAPO Chief Operating Officer, Lindiwe Kwele announced on Tuesday that the migration of grant beneficiaries to Postbank has already commenced.  

Briefing members of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services on its readiness to migrate beneficiaries to its new integrated grant payment system, Kwele said that South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has signed off on the new card design for social grant beneficiaries, and that after a purchase order is issued to the preferred bidder on Friday, the first batch of two million cards is expected to be delivered on 16 March 2018.

“After this, two million cards will be delivered every three weeks until a total order of 10.6 million cards has been delivered by 8 June 2018. The migration of beneficiaries to Postbank accounts has commenced and is being prioritised and monitored weekly,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za

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