UIF paid out R58.7b in COVID relief funds, traced R228m in dodgy claims

Minister Thulas Nxesi admitted that the pandemic exposed government’s incapacity on many fronts.

FILE: Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi addresses a media briefing in Pretoria on level 3 lockdown regulations on 29 May 2020. Picture: @GCISMedia/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG – The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has made almost R60 billion worth of payments since April last year as part of government’s COVID-19 relief effort.

Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi addressed a webinar on Friday on post-pandemic recovery.

South Africa’s economy shrank by 7% and shed a million jobs during the course of the pandemic, but Nxesi was confident the UIF’s Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) brought some comfort.

“As at 31 march 2021, payments were made to 267,000 employers and to 5.4 million individual employees at a cost of R58.7 billion, providing support to laid-off workers, their families and communities across the country.”

Nxesi admitted that the pandemic exposed government’s incapacity on many fronts.

“Payment of COVID-19 Ters benefits by the UIF quickly became the target of fraud and corruption. We were, therefore, grateful to the office of the Auditor-General for their assistance in analysing systemic weaknesses, requiring strengthened controls, and to the SIU for investigating possible fraud and corruption.”

He added they had managed to trace R228 million that was fraudulently claimed by companies and 121 employers had been handed over to the Hawks for investigation, with 16 of them having already appeared in court.

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