Social welfare minister Doreen Sioka says the double payment of social grants during November last year was to ensure that beneficiaries are not disadvantaged by the general slowing down of activities during the festive season.
Sioka said this in parliament on Tuesday while responding to questions posed by PDM parliamentarian Jennifer van den Heever, who wanted the line minister to explain the rationale behind the grants for November and December last year paid together in November.
Sioka said the measure was put into place to ensure all beneficiaries receive their grants before the December festive season rush and before beneficiaries move from their actual pay points to their holiday destinations.
“The social grant supply chain involves different stakeholders, whose availability during the month of December can pose a challenge and thus affect the payment of grants during this holiday month,” Sioka explained.
She also said cash payment companies who serve the greater portion of the beneficiaries work continuously from January to November on a very tight schedule, travelling through the entire country serving over 2 000 pay points.
Their payment schedule starts on the third of each month and ends on either the 25th or 27th of that month.
“When payments end, the data is loaded to the main server, while the vehicles, equipment and machinery are presented for minor inspection and fixing,” she explained.
Sioka said the new data for the following month is then loaded and arrangements for cash withdrawals from banks are made for pay teams and the process starts again for the new month.
Subsequently, she said, the pay teams hardly get any leave during the year and this leaves only the month of December for proper servicing of vehicles, equipment and machinery used for cash payments before the service providers close for holiday.
The ministry of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare administers several safety nets to vulnerable Namibians, which includes the old age, disability and child grants, student allowances and food assistance to the poor and vulnerable in urban and peri-urban areas as well as to marginalised communities.
The ministry employs various payment modes for social grants to ensure maximum coverage of all beneficiaries. The ministry has reached 97% coverage of beneficiaries, 74% and 60% for conditional disability and child grants.