Minister must explain suspended Ters payments – Michael Cardo

DA MP says benefit scheme has been plagued by delays and technical problems since its inception

Minister must explain suspended Ters payments

26 August 2020

The Minister of Employment and Labour, ThulasNxesi, must explain exactly why Ters payments have been suspended and make an announcement as to when they will resume.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund's (UIF) Covid-19 Ters benefit scheme has been plagued by delays and technical problems since its inception. Many workers still haven’t received payments for April, May and June, let alone July and August.

The fact that all disbursements were suspended, pending an investigation into financial irregularities uncovered by the Auditor-General, takes matters from bad to worse. Long-suffering workers are going to have to wait even longer for their elusive Ters benefits. This translates into unpaid bills, food that cannot be bought, and increasing desperation and despair at a time of social and economic hardship.

Earlier this week, the Auditor-General alerted the UIF to control ‘deficiencies’ in its payment system, including inconsistencies regarding past payments made to people who are deceased, imprisoned, or who are minors.

We know that the Ters scheme has been serially defrauded, including one well-known case in which a single individual received and laundered R5.7 million intended for 1 400 workers.

The latest developments suggest that this case was just the tip of the iceberg. Payments would only have been suspended, following the Auditor-General’s findings, if there was a justifiable belief that instances of fraud and corruption associated with the Ters scheme are deep-seated and widespread at the UIF.

Minister Nxesi must share with the public the real extent of the problem as uncovered by the Auditor-General and explain what is being done by specialist forensic auditors to get to the bottom of it. He also needs to indicate whether any officials from the UIF and/or the Department of Employment and Labour have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Above all, Minister Nxesi must communicate with anxious workers when they can expect Ters payments to recommence.

Issued by Michael Cardo, DA Shadow Minister of Employment and Labour, 26 August 2020