IN QUOTES | R49bn in payments & 157 criminal cases: Thulas Nxesi on the state of Covid-19 Ters
There are 157 Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) cases which are either pending or allocated for investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), according to labour minister Thulas Nxesi.
The cases involve companies and individuals who were flagged in wrongdoing, including claiming for “ghost employees” and accepting overpayments.
Nxesi was responding to questions from members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.
He said the suspension of some Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) officials, following the report of the auditor-general, should not suggest the individuals are corrupt as investigations are ongoing.
The minister said it was important for the government to "walk the talk" to implement accountability when illegality is detected.
Nxesi would not be drawn to comment on whether officials aided companies and individuals to lodge illegal claims, saying investigations are ongoing.
Here are five quotes from the minister:
Total Ters payments
“As of October 9, since the beginning of lockdown, more than R49bn had been disbursed in benefits in the form of more than 11 million payments. These benefits were disbursed across all provinces roughly in proportion to demographics and economic activity.
"In Gauteng, R23bn was disbursed in 5 million payments, and in the Northern Cape R484m was disbursed in just over 100,000 payments. All other provinces fell in between.”
Accountability after AG's report
“The report indicated large risks and gaps in UIF systems, allowing fraudulent and illegal payments to take place, as well as overpayments and underpayments. This was a failure to put in place basic protocols.
"That is why I took the decision to place management on precautionary suspension. We will take follow-up action after investigations have been completed.”
“More than R3.4bn in wrongful payments has already been recouped, many thanks to honest, responsible employers who returned overpayments after realising a mistake had been made.
"Often benefits were calculated on the basis of incorrect information. For others who returned overpayments, conscience is a wonderful thing, but it also helps if you know the auditor-general is looking into the payments.”
“A total of 157 cases were allocated for investigation. They include employers withholding or underpaying employee benefits, employer using incorrect reference numbers and suspected fraudulent claims. To date 67 cases have been finalised and 90 are still pending. The UIF has instituted 75 criminal cases, 11 people have been arrested and 10 have appeared before the courts.”
Compensation for occupational injuries
“The compensation fund has, as of September 28, received 7,966 Covid-19 claims in respect of compensation for occupational injuries and diseases, and 57% of the claims were from females and 43% ]from males. Just over R5bn has since been paid towards benefits. More than half have already been adjudicated.”