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SCOPA Shines Light on COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme

July 6, 2020

Parliament

The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has called on the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to fix the shortcomings in the information technology system used for the disbursement of funds during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The UIF recently briefed Scopa on the disbursement of COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) funds during the lockdown.

In a statement, Scopa declared that the “shortcomings of the system have made the UIF vulnerable to fraud and corruption from employees and employers who have made false claims amounting to millions of rands”.

The committee seeks a detailed plan from the UIF on its migration to a better system that will avoid such loopholes that open it up to fraud.

Scopa welcomed the disbursement of over R25 billion to four million workers negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but voiced concern over the administrative delays in the processing of some disbursements that have left almost one million employees in the lurch.

Mention was also made of the special audit for the Covid-19 pandemic to be conducted by the auditor-general by August 2020.

During the briefing, the UIF reported that, as of 19 June 2020, sixteen cases had been finalised despite the Risk Anti-Corruption and Integrity Management Unit receiving a total of 75 reported cases.

The UIF also reported that the Hawks are currently concluding the first UIF case with an arrest imminent, the UIF has been invited to form part of the weekly meeting on COVID 19 Fraud reporting and progress and the UIF is also engaging the Hawks to utilise the hotline/contact line for the public to report COVID-19 TERS fraud related matters.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the employment and labour department announced that the UIF will continue to accept and process Covid-19 TERS claims submitted for April, May and June 2020 as per the directive issued by the employment and labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, on 26 March 2020.

“Although June was the last month for the Covid-19 TERS benefits as per the directive, the UIF will continue to process and pay claims submitted for this period until the cut-off date is determined. However, we will not accept claims submitted for July onwards as that falls outside of the time period stipulated in the directive for the Covid-19 TERS benefits”, said the UIF
Commissioner, Teboho Maruping.

Technical glitches for June applications have been experienced and the department roped in external sources to help.

If everything goes according to plan, the system could be re-opened for applications this weekend.