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Radical overhaul for grants system

2010-07-22 21:49

Pretoria - The social grants system is to get a "radical overhaul" to eliminate wasteful expenditure, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) said on Thursday.

The agency was aware of deficits, administration problems and budget pressures and was seeking to address them, acting CEO Coceko Pakade told a press briefing in Pretoria.

"The long-term plan is to develop a new payment model which will radically overhaul the current one, which is obviously inefficient and costly."

The briefing followed a presentation by Treasury to Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), indicating that around R1bn was being overspent.

The strategy would include developing a cost-effective national payment system, stringent austerity measures to curtail operating costs and re-negotiating the current payment contract to reduce handling fees.

"Already R319m was saved in the past financial year through this process. For the current financial year Sassa targets a savings of R370m," Pakade said.

R10.5m recovered

Other measures would include recouping money from unclaimed benefits from a number of banks.

To date a total of R10.5m had been recovered.

Sassa had also obtained a preservation order for 153 government officials who had diverted unclaimed benefits to their accounts.

An estimated 22 000 beneficiaries had also been identified as inactive or dormant.

"We are currently exploring all legal avenues with the aim of attaching their property to reclaim the money owed to us."

Pakade said the number of accounts belonging to dead beneficiaries had not been estimated, as their next of kin had not reported the deaths.

He said while the presentation to Scopa was "in a sense fair", they had also not been given the opportunity to respond.

"We were not given a chance to respond, because we were not present at the meeting," he said, adding that not only the agency was accountable, but also the department of social development.

"We are a joint team."