Telecommunications and Postal Services on SAPO’s readiness in social grants payment

The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services led a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee briefing on SA Post Office's readiness to participate in the payment of social grants

Earlier today, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services DrSiyabongaCwele led the department's presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio on the readiness of the SA Post Office (SAPO) to contribute in the payment of social grants from 1 April 2018.

The Minister was accompanied by the Chairperson of the SA Post Office, Mr Comfort Ngidi, Chairperson of the Postbank, MsPhumzoNoxaka, SAPO CEO Mark Barnes and senior managers from the department, SAPO and the Postbank.

From the onset, I would like to reaffirm Government's commitment to ensuring that social grants are paid with minimum disruption as possible. Some of the public debate on this process has led to perception that the Government does not care for the poor.

I would like to dispel such a perception, because our government cares about the poor and will ensure that the grant recipients will continue receiving their grants without hindrance or disruption as we implement and comply with court decision, said Minister Cwele.

He said the Inter Ministerial Committee on Comprehensive Social Security, led by Minister DrNkosazanaDlamini-Zuma, is working very hard to ensure that social grants beneficiaries get paid. This commitment is highlighted by the submission of the Fourth Quarterly Report to the Constitutional Court in fulfilment of the Court's order.

Minister Cwele said Government is trying to reduce the number of beneficiaries who received their payments in cash because it is the riskiest and most expensive delivery model.

There are currently about 2,8 million beneficiaries get paid in cash at pay points. South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) is communicating directly to young and able bodies beneficiaries to encourage them to opt for receiving their grants via electronic means, said Minister Cwele.

He said the SA Post Office has met its obligations in readiness for its role in the electronic payment option of social grants. These include card productions and plans to swap existing cards with new cards.

As you would expect with a project of this magnitude and scale, we would require a phasing in and phasing out period, said Minister Cwele.

He said the Postbank will be able to play its role in the payment of social grants even though it does not have a banking licence. SAPO CEO Barnes said SASSA will instead utilise its Paymaster General account at the SA Reserve Bank to facilitate direct transfers into the Special Disbursement Account (SDA) via Bankserv.

The SDA product has been created in Postbank's core banking system and is ready. Individual accounts will be opened during on-boarding of new beneficiaries commencing 3 April 2018 at all SASSA offices and card-swop of existing beneficiaries will commence at all SAPO branches on 16 April 2018 and at all identified community halls and other venues from 30 April to be completed by 30 September 2018, said Barnes.

Barnes said the Postbank has received the first batch of 250 000 cards which have been certified by Visa. These are currently being tested by the Payment Association of SA (PASA) and local banks for approval.

It would take the Postbank 43 working days to deliver all the required cards from the day of certification by the PASA and local banks. It is important to note that the current CPS / SASSA cards that were expiring last year were extended and are still valid until December 2018 or until replaced by new card issued by SASSA and SAPO.

He said from 03 April 2018, the Postbank will issue new beneficiaries with Mzansi cards if the new SASSA cards were not available. These would be swopped with new cards as they become available.

Minister Cwele said the IMC has instructed that the technical team of the IMC to mobilise all government departments necessary to ensure that the social grant payments take place peacefully and with minimum disruptions.

We are mobilising our municipalities and councillors to ensure that they also communicate the message that Government is ready and committed to paying social grants, said Minister Cwele.

Source: Government of South Africa