The Deputy Minister of the Department of Labour and Employment, Ms Boitumelo Moloi, told National Council of Provinces (NCOP) permanent delegates how the Department of Labour and Employment will utilise its adjusted budget to respond to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Appearing before a virtual plenary of the NCOP yesterday for the department’s budget vote debate, Ms Moloi said job creation still remains the department’s chief mandate. The R3.6 billion in the adjusted budget will be prioritised to secure employment and to initiate programmes to give employees easy access to the department’s Covid-19 relief services.

“Currently, we have 24 mobile units in all provinces aimed at taking our services to the people. This is done to reduce the cost of services, of reaching our labour centres and as a means of maintaining the principles of social distancing through our online registration facilities,” Ms Moloi said.

One example of this is the revamp of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) centres to improve the efficiency. Currently, its services have improved from a 48% to a 97% efficiency rate. 

Well over 10% of the adjusted budget will be used to activate and retain job opportunities. “The department has set aside well over R343 million from the UIF to create jobs and training opportunities for the youth and women. And R5.9 million has been set aside for the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to preserve jobs.

In addition, the department aims at supporting 6 000 small and medium business enterprises. Given the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, the department requires a “consummate response in line with government’s social solidarity. To date, R34 billion has been distributed to employers and employees to provide income support”.

In addition, the Compensation Fund has ensured that workers “get compensated for contracting the virus while at work, including the temporary disbursement of medicine, covering of their medical expenses, and of survivors benefit and funeral in case of death”. Ms Moloi also commended the National Economic Development and Labour Council for providing leadership and directives in various sectors of the economy. 

As the pandemic moves from a health crisis into an economic crisis, the department’s priority is job creation and protection. “Hence, we have asked for more funds for the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration to avert large scale retrenchment.”     

Abel Mputing
22 July 2020