The Post Office says it is not disappointed that Cash Paymaster Systems (CPS) has been allowed to administer social grants for a further 12 months‚ but will be getting ready to throw its hat into the race.
Speaking after the Constitutional Court ruling this morning‚ Post Office CEO Mark Barnes said the organisation had offered an alternative solution to the crisis.
The Social Development Department and SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) were taken to court after failing to find an alternative to an invalid contract with CPS.
In 2014 the court had nullified the contract but allowed it to continue with the understanding that Sassa would create an in-house grants distribution system. Sassa had not done this‚ leading to uncertainty about how grants would be paid from April 1.
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The court has ruled that CPS should continue to administer social grant payments for 12 months.
“Our primary purpose was to offer an alternative and we did that‚” Barnes said.
“First and foremost we are glad that it (the grant crisis) is solved that there is no longer a ransom (situation) out there.”
He also said the fact CPS could no longer share the beneficiary data with its affiliate companies that sell loans and funeral policies was a good thing.
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“The court has ruled that data will be protected as I understand the judgment and that is a really‚ really good thing.”
He said the Post Office would spend the next 12 months getting ready to take over payment of grants if it won tender to do so.
“I hope Sassa calls us and says show us what you can do and let’s work through it together and lets be ready next time and be ready in advance and solve this thing amongst us.
“We don’t come here as a competitor‚ we are come here as a service provider. We come here as a member of government‚” he said.
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Barnes said the Post Office was capable of paying grants and keeping payments in house would save government money.
“There is a lot of confusion about whether the Post Office can do this‚” he said.
“This is not moving parcels – I know there is work to be done on delivery of physical goods and letters‚” he admitted.
“This is not the same. For the most part money moves around in computers. This is not a physical solution. This is a technology solution. The (Post) Bank is fully ready to implement it.”
“We have a fully functional bank with six million accounts and 20 million transactions a month‚” Barnes added.