NEWS

Parliament Wants To Hear From Finance Minister Gordhan On Social Grants Crisis

Scopa committee wants Gordhan to appear on Tuesday to explain Treasury's position on the grants contract negotiations.

07/03/2017 19:28 SAST | Updated 07/03/2017 19:28 SAST
REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan

Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) will call Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to appear before it next week to discuss the social grants crisis.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi told eNCA in a live crossing that Gordhan would be called, following Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's appearance on Tuesday.

Godi confirmed to News24 afterward that Scopa would ask Gordhan to appear on Tuesday, March 14.

"Scopa would like the Minister of Finance to clarify the National Treasury's position and understanding of the current contract negotiations with Cash Paymaster Services and to confirm and assure the public that social grants will be paid on April 1, 2017," a statement said later on Thursday.

The Social Development Department and the South African Social Security Agency have until March 31 to ensure the social grants scheme operation is not in contravention of the Constitutional Court, after the court directed it in 2014 to take over the scheme.

During her appearance before Scopa, Dlamini denied reports that a new social grants distribution contract has been finalised with the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services.

Frustrating meeting

Dlamini told Scopa MPs in a frustrating back-and-forth meeting that certain aspects of the four terms of the contract still needed to be finalised.

She could not give information on what the new contract would cost per grant recipient.

The current rate is R16.44 per recipient.

She could also not confirm what legal deductions the new service provider would be allowed to make under the new agreement.

What she could confirm, is that the new contract would last for two years.

The first year would focus on phasing out CPS from the grants distribution machine. The second year would focus on rolling out a new plan.

She also said they apologised to the Constitutional Court for the "unstable reports" surrounding their readiness to take over the scheme.

The department's technical task team, which includes a state law advisor, is currently reviewing the terms of the new contract, and will report back on Friday.

Thereafter, the department will make a public announcement on the new deal with CPS.

She could not comment on whether Treasury would support the new contract, as required by the Public Finance Management Act, and said Treasury must speak for itself.

News24