Tag Archive | welfare

National low income retirement plan ahead

 State retirement plan possible….

dol logoIn terms of what has been expected for quite some time, the department of labour (DoL) is soon to launch an investigation into a national retirement mechanism for low income earners. Such has been announced to the parliamentary committee on labour.

DoL, in a statement issued shortly after the meeting had been held, added that a discussion paper on the issue would be tabled at Nedlac in the near future.

In the last month of the previous parliamentary session the portfolio committee on labour held a number of workshops on the minimum wage issue and other matters perceived as critical in the labour field. Pensions for low income earners was one of them.

Stakeholders join in

During these workshops, which the department’s performance against set targets contained in the strategic plan and annual performance plan was evaluated, strategies were developed by participating parties, contributing parliamentarians and DoL.

DoL also stated that it would be talking to ILO as part of its investigations into a national retirement programme, not only as far as best practices were concerned but also into what had been found possible and practical at certain income levels elsewhere.

old mutual logoIn a recent survey undertaken by the Old Mutual on retirement plans, 42% of respondents were found to have no formal retirement provision in place at all and 85% of those that did, stated their concern on not having enough money to retire as their greatest worry due to fears surrounding inflation.

DoL is now to go a step further into the area of the of an income bracket lower than dealt with by private pension fund operators and, says DoL, plans are also afoot to investigate the possibility of including government employees in the benefits offered by UIF and also the effectiveness of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

Other articles in this category or as background
Labour committee ignores strikes – ParlyReportSA
Parliament delays process on Labour Relations Bill – ParlyReportSA

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Municipal free basic services slow

Welfare registers not being completed….welfare payments

Welfare support in the form of free basic services for poor households is totally dependent on all municipalities completing registers of those needing assistance but reports at this stage given to Parliament show that municipality support for the support system has been slow and only partially effective – transparency being one of the issues.

The department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (COGTA) was briefing the portfolio committee on energy affairs on free basis services to the poor, a right inherited in terms of the SA Constitution.

Starts with electricity connections

The new municipal infrastructure support programme, backed by DBSA, is slowly coming into place, COGTA said, with the presidential infrastructure coordinating commission (PICC) in September last year confirming it was developing mechanisms for earlier free basic electricity programmes than the current slow programme.  Electricity supply was perceived as the main basis for upgrading standards in poor areas.

Chris Malehase of COGTA said 2012 statistics indicated that some 80% of municipalities had some form of register but payments were failing to be distributed because of the difficulty of establishing who was poor and defining exactly who was in any household.

Registers not comprehensive

Free basic services were introduced in 2000 on the basis that municipalities should follow a national framework policy to build their own indigent policies and by-laws to meet their responsibilities to the poor.    This meant building an indigent register, the components of a monthly payment of R277.78 in welfare being supplied by the state and made up of free basic water (R87.90), sanitation (R73.25), energy (R56.24) and refuse removal (R60.39).

Malehase said there was a contribution also provided for per poor housed for maintenance, the threshold for being “poor” being described as less than R2,300 a month.    Throughout the nine provinces, where 278 municipalities existed, 225 had maintained some form of indigent registers which were supposed to form the basis of such welfare systems, a process which collapsed in 2009.

Some 25% municipalities incapable

The process was now being re-built, Malehase said, the collapse having been caused by either dysfunctional municipal management or lacked of skilled capacity. He told parliamentarians that “progress to date” was that 60 municipalities were being supported in five of the nine provinces. Energy was described as 50 kilowatts of electricity free per month, but what happened to households that were not connected by Eskom was not made clear

Political and administrative support was sought at all levels but most of all political support had to be obtained at all levels of municipal administration. This was the difficulty, Malehase said. Current issues at the time were that no exit strategy was defined should the status of a beneficiary change and the impact on the quality of life of a beneficiary had not been measured. The scheme was “generally out of control”.

Eskom not answer for everything

Problems also existed with the relationship between Eskom and government inasmuch that government had reached the ceiling of its private debt to Eskom in providing relief and Eskom had difficulties is supplying electricity at current low levels of expense. Against the background of difficulties, COGTA was maintaining training and capacity building exercises with municipalities in an effort to ensure an “efficient and effective roll-out” of further supported areas.

In May 2012, due to the ineffectualness of the programme, the local government turnaround strategy was the key of a presidential proclamation to unbundle the previous programme known as “Siyenza Manje” and to ring fence all funds paid to municipalities for such welfare. The municipal infrastructure support agency or MISA was formed to give accelerated delivery to the programme. Whether some municipalities would accept this was the issue, said Malehase.

Training gains traction

The position was now improved, COGTA said,with 32 municipalities in 8 provinces (the missing province being Gauteng for structural and financial reasons) with 114 apprentices now trained on electricity matters in relation to the Eskom “ADAM” programme with a further 469 yet to be placed who were in training. 100 technical managers are to be eventually placed as skilled personnel and a further 100 engineering students also placed.

MISA and DBSA were now coupled in the programme, one of the sixteen presidential “SIPs” to develop South Africa, but throughout the parliamentary presentation by both COGTA and MISA, it became apparent that the “buy in” by municipalities was both a political and administrative issue and not all municipalities accepted or practised the programme in both a credible and transparent manner, Malhase said.

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