CAPE TOWN, March (ANA) - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) on Thursday said by April 1 most of the country's welfare grant beneficiaries will be paid directly without the help of the old Cash Paymaster Services.
"We are pleased to announce a significant state of readiness for SAPO [South African Post Office] to commence payments of social grants and assure South Africans that social grants will be paid from 01 April 2018," said Pearl Bengu, acting Sassa chief executive in a media statement.
Last year, the Constitutional Court suspended an order which invalidated Sassa's contract with CPS to pay grants. Sassa was given until March 31 this year to phase out the CPS payment system and pay beneficiaries through, among others, the SAPO.
In December last year, Sassa and Sapo signed a service agreement. Since then, Sassa said it had made progress in phasing out the CPS payment system.
"SASSA has reactivated the PMG accounts in the SA Reserve Bank environment and is using this to manage the money for the direct transfers. This means that the money is not paid over to a private contractor in advance, but remains within the government environment until deposited into the social grant beneficiary accounts," said Bhengu.
In addition, Sassa made direct payments to 2.3 million beneficiaries this month and expects this number to increase come April 1.
"In April, a total of 5.7 million beneficiaries transacting through the Sassa Payment Card will be paid directly by Sassa without the assistance of CPS," the statement said.
"In essence, by 01 April 2018, Sassa would have paid approximately 7.7 million of the 10, 7 million beneficiaries directly.
The post office would be ready to start opening accounts for beneficiaries on April 3. Those opening up accounts at the SAPO would be able to make three cash withdrawals without paying any charges, receive one free balance inquiry and one free mini-statement a month, and a free three-month bank statement on demand.
Sassa will appoint a new service provider to ensure cash payments, using the new Sassa-SAPO card.
Talks were also continuing with commercial banks.
"Sassa, through National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank, is also in talks with commercial banks for the establishment of a low-cost account for social grants beneficiaries who receive their money directly into their personal bank accounts."
- African News Agency (ANA)