Sassa reveals transitional plan for social grants payments

2017-06-21 17:38
Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

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Cape Town - The South African Social Security Agency cannot take over the social grants scheme in full before March 2018, and plans to implement a hybrid, transitional model over the next four years.

Sassa on Wednesday acknowledged to MPs that it could only partially take control of the grants scheme from current illegal service provider Cash Paymaster Services by March 31, 2018, as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

Plans were, therefore, in place to bring in an interim service provider to phase out CPS by the 2018 deadline, while the agency builds its own capacity to take over fully by April 2021, Sassa executive manager Raphaahle Ramokgopa said.

The measures they would be able to take in-house by April 2018 would be:

  • the setting up of a corporate bank account;
  • direct transfers to beneficiaries in commercial bank accounts;
  • a biometric identification management system;
  • successful implementation of deductions.

READ: Sassa: Tender for new service provider expected from July

During the three-year "transition" phase thereafter, it would also insource beneficiary payment data in full, takeover the enrolment of new beneficiaries, and the process around Sassa card insurance.

The South African Post Office would come on board this year to help in an "auxiliary role". Talks with the SAPO continue, but an understanding could only be signed once Sassa's launches a competitive bidding process for a replacement for CPS.

This would happen from July, and conclude in September.

The phasing out of CPS and phasing in of a new provider, including SAPO, would begin in November, giving the new team just five months to prepare.

Recipients' data

Ramokgopa said the transfer of beneficiary data, a contentious point for MPs who value grant recipients' private information, is being migrated from CPS month by month.

Sassa is the custodian of the data, but only CPS knows how to convert the information into a format acceptable to the banks. Sassa would need to learn this process.

No timeline was given for when the transfer of data will be complete, nor how it will attempt to migrate information on deductions, bank charges and call centre data.

They would, however, continue to monitor CPS, which has set up an independent audit process with auditing firm KPMG, to ensure compliance.

The Constitutional Court's order to build an independent panel of experts to aid with the takeover had also been complied with, Ramokgopa said.

The court confirmed on June 6 that 10 experts had been appointed to assist the Auditor General in monitoring Sassa's progress.

Sassa has been ordered to pay the experts. They met for the first time on June 14, and were briefed on the above strategy, going forward.

The takeover is a standing item on the portfolio committee on social development's agenda, which meets every two weeks for an update.

The next update, however, will only be in August, as Parliament goes into recess during the month of July.

The next Constitutional Court submission is due in September.

Read more on:    parliament  |  sassa  |  cps  |  sapo  |  cape town  |  social grants

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