Business for South Africa (B4SA), a coalition of business organisations and large and small companies set up to assist the country in its Covid-19 response, is pleased with the extension of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) announced by the department of labour.
“With the lockdown for some industries extended to September 15, it only makes sense for us to continue to shield workers from the worst effects of the pandemic by extending the relief payments which have placed much-needed cash into the hands of ordinary workers in this country,” said Labour Minister Thembelani Nxesi.
He said the money to workers will continue to make a “difference in the lives of beneficiaries until September 15 2020”.
But Business for South Africa said on its website: “It appears that this extension will last until the state of disaster ends, but final confirmation on funding availability for this is awaited.”
The labour department said applications to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for Ters benefits for March to July will be open until September 15. Applications for August to September 15 will close on October 30.
No further applications will be accepted beyond that date. The decision followed negotiations at the National Economic and Labour Council.
The Ters payments are part of a government-wide response to ease the burden of the pandemic and to assist workers by ensuring the lockdown does not financially prejudice them.
The payments have been disrupted by system failures and payments to dead and jailed people and to people already receiving a social grant.
The Mail & Guardian reported in August that the investigations into the fund began in July as part of the chapter nine institutions’ monitoring of the government’s R500-billion Covid-19 expenditure.
Last week auditor general Kimi Makwetu found that there was poor control over the government’s Covid-19 relief packages.
He said that there was “an increased risk of payments to ineligible beneficiaries, overpayments, underpayments, the invalid rejection of beneficiaries, fraud and double-dipping by individuals”.
After the investigation, the labour department suspended the UIF commissioner, Teboho Maruping, and the UIF’s chief financial officer, chief operating officer and head of supply chain management.
As of Monday, the UIF had disbursed more than R41-billion in 9 501 365 payments through applications by 825 814 employers.