The payments for new as well as outstanding applications for the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) relief benefits have been halted while the Department of Employment and Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) improve controls as urged by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA).
This temporary halt is to enable the UIF to deal with the gaps identified by the AGSA, and to provide the opportunity to ensure that some of the improvements that had already been identified by the management are effected.
“While the AGSA has shown us a number of deficiencies in the payment of the Covid-19 TERS benefits, I must hasten to add that many of these deficiencies had been picked up already by management.
"Some had already been corrected in the June payments but we will continue to improve the system so that it responds to the needs of our beneficiaries and makes the payments effective and efficient,” says UIF acting commissioner Marsha Bronkhorst.
She adds that the UIF has taken a number of steps to address the systemic challenges that it had with regard to the payments.
“First of these is that we have entered into memoranda of understanding with a number of government institutions to make sure we get access into their updated databases.
"These include institutions such as the South African Social Security Agency, National Students Financial Aid Scheme and the Department of Home Affairs. These departments and institutions are currently busy verifying the UIF database to ensure payments reach the correct persons.
“Secondly we have updated our system to make sure that the bank verification happens quicker and these include verifications for schools, non-governmental organisations, etc. We are also working hard currently in improving our Covid-19 TERS application portal to make sure that to the extent possible, it becomes a self-service portal to make it easy for employers and employees,” she says.
Bronkhorst is optimistic that the system should be up and ready to help workers as soon as possible to provide financial relief especially to those who are still under lockdown conditions.
She points out that, despite the challenges, the UIF has delivered in the face of great need, with payments equating to just under R42-billion.
“As soon as the improvements are finalised, we will be in a position to ensure that workers of this country are provided a cushion to make their lives easier,” she says.