Pretoria – The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is on the verge of expanding the period of benefit payment from eight months to 12 months, says the fund’s commissioner Boas Seruwe.

Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Labour, Seruwe said the move was aimed at easing the burden on the unemployed.

Seruwe said although the extension of the benefits period

was still under discussion at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), it was something “that will happen”.

Presenting the UIF’s Annual Report for 2012/13 to the committee, Seruwe said the fund had paid out a total of R6 billion, compared to R5.6 billion in 2012 -- a 7.1% increase in claims.

In the same period, 731 131 beneficiaries had been paid -- an increase of 25 276 compared to last year’s 705 855.

In the period under review the UIF had 1 465 218 employers (commercial, domestic and taxi) registered on the system, compared to 1 408 205 in March 2002.

The fund had 8 330 760 employees (commercial and domestic) registered on the system in March 2013, compared to 8 125 575 in March 2012.

UIF on sound footing

Seruwe said the UIF currently has total assets valued at R81 billion, compared to R65 billion in 2012, while net surplus in the period under review was R16 billion, compared to R11 billion in 2012.

He noted that the UIF had grown the active U-filling employers from 42 487, compared to 35 868 active U-filling employers in 2012 -- an increase of 18.45%.

“The UIF established a partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in 2010 in response to job losses that were taking place in the country...

“During the 2012/13 financial year, the UIF and IDC continued their collaboration through the issuance of an additional bond of R2 billion. This has increased the total bond to R4 billion. Since the inception of the UIF/IDC partnership, there have been 199 approved deals with a total value of R3.3 billion,” Seruwe said.

To date, 21 234 new jobs have been created and 20 161 jobs saved by companies that accessed funding from the UIF/IDC initiative.

In another initiative, the UIF partners with Productivity South Africa, in which it funds the organisation’s turnaround solutions to help companies that are in distress, so as to save jobs.

“In terms of the funding agreement, the UIF allocated R39 million for 2012/13, and R55 million is earmarked for the 2013/14 financial year. In the 2013/14 financial year, 130 companies are targeted for intervention, with the potential to save 10 200 jobs through the turnaround solution intervention,” said Seruwe.

Through the funding for the Training Lay-Off scheme, the UIF has budgeted R105 million for 2013/14 and a further R400 million over the next three years.

Clean audit

In a push to sustain proper financial controls and corporate governance, the UIF has posted yet another clean audit in the period under review.

Seruwe said the fund would continue consolidating on its developmental programmes, such as funding training initiatives for the unemployed.

“We also believe job creation, especially in the area of beneficiation, will receive attention. We are also targeting sectors, such as textile and agro-processing, as part of the drive to revive industrialisation, while not forgetting tourism with its inherent potential.”

The UIF is a public entity of the Department of Labour that contributes to the alleviation of poverty in South Africa by providing effective short-term unemployment insurance to all workers who qualify for unemployment and related benefits. –