Parliament’s finance watchdog has found the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) system used for bank account confirmations was inadequate and details of employee salaries submitted for temporary benefit claims were not verified.
These findings were contained in a report by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), which now has to be considered by the House.
On Tuesday, Scopa considered and adopted the report that laid bare the lack of protocols and inefficiencies with the UIF’s Covid-19 temporary employment relief scheme (TERS) benefit payment.
The scheme was introduced amid the high job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The acting UIF commissioner also acknowledged that payments to SANDF members were as a result of a database not updated to verify ID numbers. There was no verification of applicants representing employers. Incorrect system calculations of the TERS benefit payment for the first lockdown period were made,” it said in its report.
“Scopa also found there was no adequate verification of employer details. The system functionality for bank confirmation of uploaded documents was inadequate and details of employee salaries submitted for benefit claims were not verified.”
Following an oversight visit to the UIF, Scopa found several acting personnel in key positions.
“There was no training of staff, lack of skills and low morale among staff. There was no real leadership to set the tone from the top. The filing room was full of boxes piling up against the walls. A safe where tender documents were said to be kept was openly accessible inside the filing room, with the keys carelessly hanging on the key slot,” the report said.
Earlier this month, News24 reported that the dead, people too young to work, UIF employees and SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries looted almost R120 million from the TERS benefit between 1 April and 30 September.
Fifty-three applicants below the legal age of employment were paid R224 677.43, 113 “deceased” applicants got R441 144.34, while R129 242.64 were paid to 26 inmates.
In October, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi warned the UIF was not some “money tree” with unlimited resources.
Nxesi said the UIF had around R50 billion available.
Through TERS, about R49 billion had been disbursed in benefits in the form of more than 11 million payments since the beginning of the lockdown.
The committee also found the UIF had distributed R24 billion in Covid-19 tax benefits, covering 330 000 employers “and benefitting several employees in an unprecedented manner”.