Social development minister Bathabile Dlamini says revised regulations to the Social Assistance Act published on Friday aim to close loopholes which allow illegal, immoral and unauthorised deductions on social grants. Dlamini, briefed the media on progress made by the Ministerial Task Team on Deductions, set up to investigate these issues.
She told journalists that deductions for cellphone airtime will now be stopped. There will be no payments allowed to brokers selling funeral policies.
It follows a flood of complaints queries about illegal deductions related to advance airtime. The illicit deductions relate to banking services not covered by CPS, the company contracted to manage grant payments.
This comes after the president’s budget vote that was held in parliament over the past few days and amidst the protesting done by elderly people outside parliament protesting against the illegal deductions made on their social grants.
The new regulations are aimed at closing loopholes that some financial services providers have used to illegally deduct money off the grants of pensioners and other beneficiaries.
“A new challenge has emerged called Easy Pay Everywhere. It is a bank account issued by green road bank and we are investigating cases where sales staffs have allegedly told beneficiaries that they needed a Easy Pay bank account to receive social grants as their SASSA cards were invalid,” Minister Dlamini told journalists at parliament.
She reiterated that services on the SASSA branded cards are free on the SASSA network.
“Grant beneficiaries need to be careful with whom they open bank accounts with and that they are able to establish a relationship with that bank,” the minister added.
“We strongly discourage banking with institutions that cannot provide proper services.”
The ministerial task team that has been set up is in the process of engaging a range of stakeholders including the South African reserve bank, The National Treasury and The Payment Association Of South African that support the government’s intention to create a new safe bank account to protect social grant beneficiaries from unauthorised and unlawful deductions.
Set up in 2014, the task team was comprised of officials that the minister says will “work to continue to ensure that legislation and recommendation are implemented and the social grant beneficiaries will get recourse”. VOC