It was recently announced that an important social relief mechanism, which millions of people rely on in South Africa, will be extended by 12 months. This came as a welcomed relief to millions as they would have been without any support if the grant implementation was stopped.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently announced that the implementation of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will be extended by twelve months.
The announcement of the grants’ extension was made during the minister’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to parliament. Speaking after the announcement, the minister said discussions around the future of the grant are on-going and involve very difficult trade-offs and financing decisions.
Godongwana explained that the government wanted to increase the number of police officers in the country by 30,000. However, this was not possible due to the grants extension.
The minister explained that a permanent extension of the SRD grant or a replacement will require permanent increases in revenue, reductions in spending elsewhere, or a combination of the two.
Black Sash Director, Rachel Bukasa says the Minister is viewing the extension of the grant through the fiscal perspective and not the human perspective. They add that the government also has a constitutional obligation to ensure comprehensive social security to citizens.
It’s absolutely a lifeline, for other people what might sound like a dinner for two, for other people it’s completely something that others rely on to pay school fees, get food on the table; without which they are left destitute and quite frankly hungry.
Bukusa believes that Godongwana’s statements regarding the SRD grant are manipulative. This as the consideration of extending the SRD grant is said to impact the ability of the government to increase the amount of money received by other social grant recipients.
We’ve got this grant, this other one won’t increase according to inflation because it’s a trade-off. Well, actually why can’t the trade-off be against all the money that is being lost to corruption?
Bukusa adds that social grants should not be seen as favours to citizens. This is because grants supplement a falling system in which jobs are not available and poverty worsens.
Blacksash will study the Minsters’ budget to determine a way forward. They added that government’s refusal to consult with different economists and civil society to come up with a sustainable solution to fund the SRD grant indicates a lack of political will.
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