IMC report on fixing social grant crisis lacks significant details
21 November 2017
While the Black Sash appreciates the intervention by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Comprehensive Social Security, the report back to the joint meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Social Development Portfolio Committee on Tuesday 21 November 2017 lacks significant details.
Although an Implementation Protocol has been signed between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), a service level agreement will be ‘subject to cost effectiveness’. The Card Body Production and Distribution function will be further subjected to ‘price competitiveness’. This leaves the door wide open for new tenders and may prolong the implementation time frame beyond 31 March 2018 The IMC report identifies implementation stages without clear milestones and time frames including the hand over from the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), to SAPO and/or new service providers. The IMC’s proposed plan is also silent on who will manage the 10 000 SASSA pay points.
The Black Sash is disappointed that the IMC’s report did not include details for how the confidential data of over 17 million social grant beneficiaries will be protected as per the March 2017 Constitutional Court order. While we look forward to the creation of a special protected and affordable bank account for social grant beneficiaries, further clarity is needed about the concept for a ‘hybrid model’ involving the banks. Commercial banks should not see this as an opportunity to fleece beneficiaries of their meagre social grants by targeting financial products at them. This special account must prohibit unauthorized, fraudulent and unlawful deductions.
The communication plan, to be rolled out by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), must be implemented with urgency. Every effort must be made to communicate directly with social grant beneficiaries to protect them from misinformation and scams.
Until SASSA, with the support of the IMC, files a detailed implementation plan on 8 December 2017 with the Constitutional Court, the Black Sash remains cautiously optimistic.
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- Evashnee Naidu
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