Demand for benefits results in serious budget shortfall
January 22, 2018
Pretoria, South Africa: The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on Sunday (January 21, 2018) announced it has had to reprioritise funds and trim their basic education support to beneficiaries because of an increase in demand for benefits and budget cuts.
Military Veterans Deputy Minister, Kebby Maphatsoe said: “For new applications for the 2018 academic year, the maximum benefit will be R 20 000 per learner per annum. This is to ensure that in spite of budgetary constraints, all military veterans and their beneficiaries who qualify are provided with this important benefit.”
The deputy minister added the threshold for continuing learners is said to remain at R42 500 in 2018. However, in 2019 the maximum amount for all learners in basic education will be capped at R 20 000.
In 2017 education support was provided to 7 712 military veterans and their dependants.
In 2018 the number of applicants saw an increase.
“For this academic year (2018) the number of applicants has increased to 11 600, with about 4000 new applicants. This increase means that the department needed to take immediate steps to ensure that the available resources are spread among all qualifying and deserving applicants,” said Maphatsoe.
In addition to the spike in new applications, the deputy minister said the increase in benefits and the budget cuts from the National Treasury meant that the department had to tighten its belt.
"The increase in demand for benefits has resulted in a serious budget shortfall for DMV as from the previous financial year. The further budget cuts announced by the National Treasury in December 2017, of 5% in the case of the DMV, further increased this shortfall," he added.
A total of 11 benefits are listed in the Military Veterans Act, all of which have to be funded within a limited budget.
These include burial support, housing, healthcare, pension, a public transport subsidy, employment placement, education and skills training, memorialisation of fallen veterans, counselling and compensation for disabled veterans.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Maphatsoe also met with the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) and its affiliate associations on January 17, 2018 to explain the financial pressures facing the DMV and to ask for support for the departments proposals.
Acting Director General, Max Ozinsky, said the department is open to engagement on solutions and models on how to better roll out benefits to military veterans.
Higher Education Support
The department is also mandated to fund all continuing military veterans and their dependants studying at higher education institutions. This is subject to beneficiaries who meet the DMV qualifying criteria.
“In line with the statement of the President of the Republic, the Honourable JG Zuma on the 16 December 2017 with regard to the provision of free education to poor and working class students, the DMV will engage the Department of Higher Education and Training and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
“This is to ensure continuing students studying in public higher education institutions who meet the criteria will be provided with the education support benefit through NSFAS,” said the department.