Unlawful Ters payouts have cost labour dept R119 million: Nxesi
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Cape Town – The Unemployment Insurance Fund paid out R119.7 million in Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) benefits to people who were not lawfully entitled to it, according to a parliamentary response by Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.
The benefits were paid out between the beginning of April and the end of October, including the controversial case of R4 million going to a beneficiary with the same ID number as an employee of the UIF.
According to Nxesi's response published on Monday, R88 million was paid to individuals receiving an old-age grant from the state, R30 million to people with invalid identity numbers and R441 000 to beneficiaries who turned out to be deceased.
A further R129 000 in TERS benefits were paid over to prisoners and R224 677 to people below the legal employment age.
Nxesi in early September suspended five senior UIF officials, including commissioner Teboho Maruping as fraudulent payments came to light and these are still under investigation by the Auditor-General.
Nxesi, in another written reply to questions submitted by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Michael Cardo, said the monthly salary bill for those suspended came to R450 551.
They will remain on suspension for a period of up to 60 days following the submission of the Auditor-General's final report.
The answer comes amid increasing political pressure from the labour movement and opposition parties to extend the payment of Ters benefits for as long as the Covid-19 national state of disaster remains in place. It has been extended to November 15, but may be prolonged further.
Cardo said while Maruping UIF chief financial officer Fezeka Puzi, the fund's chief operations officer Judith Kumbi, supply chain management director Maria Ramashaba and the chief director of the fund's labour activation programme Nompumemlelo Mconywa were receiving their salaries, millions of South Africans were in dire straits.
"While members of the UIF’s top brass are sitting at home on full pay, tens of thousands of workers – many of them in the tourism and hospitality sectors – face financial ruin as we enter the festive season.
"This is because the National Corona Command Council (NCCC) has apparently unilaterally decided not to extend the Ters benefit."
Cardo said while the state of disaster and an alert level 1 lockdown remained in place, may workers are unable to work for full pay.
"Many workers rely on the Ters benefit to make ends meet. It is sickening that government employees illegally creamed off the TERS scheme and that ordinary workers will suffer as a consequence.
"It also seems unjust that senior officials suspended from the UIF are sitting pretty at home on full pay while so many workers are penniless and hopeless."
The NCCC was due to meet this week to reconsider the country's Covid-19 response amid signs of increase in the number of daily new infections.
African News Agency (ANA)