Education benefits for military vets proving to be a financial burden
The Department of Military Veterans says that while it is committed to providing education for veterans‚ the costs are proving to be a massive financial burden.
Addressing the media‚ the department's acting director general Max Ozinsky said that in 2016‚ the department had supported 5‚860 veterans and their families with access to basic and tertiary education at a cost of R142 million‚ and against a budgeted amount of just R26 million.
He said that the number of applications for 2017 had shown a "huge" increase‚ with 3‚800 new applications‚ in addition to about 5‚000 people continuing their studies.
He said that the R26 million budget "had proved to be insufficient given the demand" and the department was currently in talks with the Treasury in order to shift funds.
"We have managed to shift some to reach about R50 million‚" he said.
The Department's chief financial officer Sibongiseni Ndlovu said they had "huge challenges paying invoices last year" and said most of this year's budget "has been utilised for invoices from the previous year".
Ozinsky said that they had noted some attempts to "defraud and abuse the system by‚ amongst others‚ inflating tuition and other fees. We will be conducting a forensic audit to ensure that we eliminate fraud and deal decisively with those responsible.”
All military veterans on the DMV database are able to apply for education support. Ozinsky however admitted there were some issues with the database.
"We are taking steps to sort it out‚" he said adding that they did not have the luxury of solving the issues with the database before paying out benefits as this would impact veterans.
-TMG Digital/Sunday Times