An extension of Covid-19 benefits will add to UIF’s woes, Newsline

Cape Town – The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) might have to dispose of some of its investments if the Covid-19 Ters benefit payments are extended again beyond next month.

Director of communication and marketing Makhosonke Buthelezi said that as a result of the pandemic, some of the fund’s investments had shrunk.

As well as R71billion in government bonds, the fund’s portfolio has investments in domestic equities and other markets. In May, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi told a Parliamentary joint meeting of portfolio and select committees on employment and labour that if the lockdown was extended there would potentially be a need to sell government bonds in order to continue operating.

Buthelezi, who was speaking during a virtual media briefing, said: “If we have to extend Ters, then we may have a problem as our resources are not limitless, but for now we are still in a healthy financial state.

“The Ters money comes from our investments, but due to Covid we’ve had to find money,” said Buthelezi.

Improved controls and systems that the fund has instituted have resulted in better vetting of claims and claimants. Buthelezi said that as of yesterday, the UIF had assessed and paid over R43 billion in nine million payments to employees from 874 852 employer applications.

“A total number of over 1 million employers have submitted claims on behalf of 11 283 665 employees,” said Buthelezi.

Buthelezi said investigations by the Special Investigating Unit SIU and fund’s Risk Management division were ongoing to track down Ters monies that may have been paid to people and companies fraudulently.

“Some investigations are already under way and about 30 to 35 cases have been opened with the SAPS,” said Buthelezi.

Giving a provincial breakdown of Ters payments over the last six months, Buthelezi said the province, with R7.1bn, was the second-highest recipient after Gauteng at R20.8bn.

UIF Western Cape manager Tony Lamati said that to protect the health of staff and clients, “queue marshalling at labour centres remains compulsory.”

Cape Argus