The Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Comprehensive Social Security Implementation says it continues to make progress in overseeing the implementation of the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court gave directives to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to deliver a comprehensive plan to the court by 8 December 2017, detailing how it will pay more than 17 million grant recipients.
The panel of experts’ report provides the Court with progress on its work and makes the recommendations for consideration by the Court.
IMC Chairperson Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, said that the IMC remains committed to be guided by the Constitutional Court order.
“The IMC will deliberate on issues raised by the panel of experts once the Constitutional Court has pronounced on the report. On 21 November 2017 it presented to the Portfolio Committee on its progress,” Minister Radebe said.
In March this 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.
CPS is responsible for the distribution of social grants to more than 17 million 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 invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA made another plan for 1 April 2018.
Work done towards finding sustainable solution
A lot has been done towards finding a sustainable solution for the payment of social grants in the country, this includes the establishment of a Technical Committee to finalise the agreement between SASSA and South African Post Office (SAPO), as well as the development of an implementation plan and a communication strategy.
Government is looking for a beneficiary centred system that promotes dignity and provides protection, improves life and gives choice to beneficiaries, eliminates fraud and corruption, and improves economic activity where beneficiaries live.
On the procurement of a service provider for 2018, due diligence is being taken to ensure that potential service providers demonstrate their capacity to meet the four key requirements, which include provision of an integrated payment system, banking services, card body production, and provision of cash payment services.
Agreement on social grants payment reached
SASSA and SAPO have concluded and signed an implementation protocol that would allow SAPO to take over the payment of social grants.
Financial institutions and the Banking Council SA have in principle agreed to establish a special affordable account for SASSA beneficiaries and to enhance their role in SASSA grants.
The implementation protocol is accompanied by an overarching implementation plan, which identifies various critical steps required to ensure the payments of grants by 1 April 2018.
A detailed project plan will be presented to the IMC on 6 December and to the panel of experts assembled by the Constitutional Court by 8 December 2017.
Extension of payment card lifespan
Meanwhile, SASSA has facilitated the extension of its current payment card lifespan beyond 31 December 2017. This will not affect the approximately two million beneficiaries that have opted to utilise an external bank card as opposed to the SASSA card.
Beneficiaries can call SASSA’s call centre for assistance or inquiries on the grant services on 0800 60 10 11. – SAnews.gov.za