Concern over committee’s Sassa report


The Black Sash has warned that  the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Comprehensive Social Security’s report back to Parliament earlier this month leaves the door wide open for new tenders and may prolong the implementation time frame beyond 31 March 2018. In addition it lacked details of how grant-holders’ confidential information would be protected.

The socio-economic rights champion says the IMC’s reportback to the joint meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and the Social Development Portfolio Committee on Tuesday 21 November 2017 lacks significant details.

Of concern was that although an Implementation Protocol had been signed between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), a service level agreement would be ‘subject to cost effectiveness’, the Black Sash said in a media statement. The Card Body Production and Distribution function would be further subjected to ‘price competitiveness’.

“This leaves the door wide open for new tenders and may prolong the implementation time frame beyond 31 March 2018,” the organisation said.

“The IMC report identifies implementation stages without clear milestones and time frames including the hand over from the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), to SAPO and/or new service providers. The IMC’s proposed plan is also silent on who will manage the 10 000 SASSA pay points.”

They were disappointed that the IMC’s report did not include details for how the confidential data of more than 17 million social grant beneficiaries would be protected as per the March 2017 Constitutional Court order.

“While we look forward to the creation of a special protected and affordable bank account for social grant beneficiaries, further clarity is needed about the concept for a ‘hybrid model’ involving the banks,” the Black Sash said. “Commercial banks should not see this as an opportunity to fleece beneficiaries of their meagre social grants by targeting financial products at them. This special account must prohibit unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions.”

The communication plan, to be rolled out by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), should be urgently implemented, Black Sash said. “Every effort must be made to communicate directly with social grant beneficiaries to protect them from misinformation and scams.

“Until SASSA, with the support of the IMC, files a detailed implementation plan on 8 December 2017 with the Constitutional Court, the Black Sash remains cautiously optimistic.”

Meanwhile an article published yesterday in City Press and fin24 reports that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and its parent company Net1 UEPS made huge profits from the Sassa contract; however, a report from the Auditor-General and a court-appointed expert panel, who are overseeing the transition to a new grant payment system by April 2018, warn that SAPO’s proposed charge per recipient is 49% higher than the current CPS charge. Full story here:

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