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Government to assess ‘damage’ caused by withdrawn social security green paper

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu on Tuesday withdrew the controversial paper.

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele says the government will assess the impact, if any, of the controversial social security green paper which has been withdrawn. 

The paper, published two weeks ago, proposed that workers contribute 8 to 12% of their earnings towards a government-run fund, among other things. However, employees earning below an income threshold of R22,320 per year would not be obliged to contribute to the fund but instead continue paying UIF.

It sparked controversy and drew the ire of trade unions, who told SowetanLIVE’s sister publication TimesLIVE they would vehemently oppose the “ludicrous” proposal, which would amount to an additional tax on workers already struggling to make ends meet. 

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu on Tuesday withdrew the paper, which had not gone through proper government channels, including approval and consideration by the cabinet or Treasury.    

Zulu had earlier said that the proposed fund was based on “social security principles of risk pooling and social solidarity”.

Updating the media on Thursday on the outcome of a cabinet meeting held the day before, Gungubele admitted that due processes had not been followed and the government had not adopted a position on the paper’s contents.

He said the government would assess the impact, if any, of the paper.

“When such papers are issued, normally they would have been consulted with the cabinet … and we don’t express any view about the contents of the paper at the moment until it has gone via a proper process. 

“We will assess if it has caused any damage and have no doubt that communications people will have to find a way of dealing with that,” he said. 

The DA had already launched an online petition to scrap the paper, on the basis that it would hit lower income earners the hardest. 

The paper was also assessing an extension of UIF benefits, including a continuation benefit for workers who have exhausted their full UIF benefits, to be paid at a lower rate and linked to labour activation measures to protect workers from having to draw down their retirement savings.

It also looked at alignment of social security with the National Health Insurance, especially for medical benefits now covered by the Compensation and Road Accident funds. 

–TimesLIVE

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