Continue with Ters to save businesses, government urged

FILE IMAGE: Long queues at the UIF offices as employees line up to get their UIF Ters monies.
FILE IMAGE: Long queues at the UIF offices as employees line up to get their UIF Ters monies.

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has warned that the suspension of Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) payments by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will lead to more businesses shutting down.

Ters payments were suspended after the auditor-general (AG) raised red flags on fraudulent activity taking place in the payments. According to The Citizen newspaper, among the problems spotted by the AG were payments to prisoners and deceased people.

Millions of workers have survived by receiving Ters payments from the UIF as their employers could not pay their salaries due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The government announced this relief at the beginning of the lockdown as a measure to help people who had their salaries cut and some who lost their jobs.

This month, the UIF recorded R40bn in payments of claims. A total of 9m payments were done to more than 700,000 companies. These companies would then pass the money on to their employees.

Sacci CEO Alan Mukoki said the suspension of these payments is totally unacceptable.

“If you suspend the Ters funds, there are a lot of businesses and employees that relied on these particular funds because we have not recovered. We are still in lockdown level 2 and many businesses have not been able yet to operate at maximum capacity. It is really unacceptable that the government would allow this. The government needed to make sure that its systems are proper, prepare the required technology to pay the right people. It is not like these things were not anticipated. We know  we are dealing with an environment where fraud is rampant.

“It is surely your responsibility to make sure that you develop mechanisms to ensure that these problems do not happen. We are aggrieved by what has happened because people are going to lose their jobs and a lot of businesses are not going to be able to survive,” Mukoki said.

 “More businesses will shut down. The big listed businesses have surplus funding and can survive. But the majority of South African businesses are small enterprises. They will not be in a position to survive without accessing any of the relief measures.”

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