South Africa News

Govt discusses basic income grant with civil society organisations

There is a need to work towards affordable and sustainable social protection mechanisms that complement job creation and drive local demand.

That was the announcement that came after a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and civil society organizations.

Ramaphosa, supported by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, met with the organizations on Tuesday, 18 January, to discuss a proposal for the extension and improvement of the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant beyond March 2022 and possible policy pathways to the introduction of a basic income grant.

In a joint statement on Friday, the Presidency said the meeting was held in response to the request by the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), Black Sash Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), #PayTheGrants, and Amandla.mobi.

Some of the recommendations made by the civil society groups include:

  • Improving the design of the grant;
  • Extending it beyond March 2022;
  • Expanding the eligibility criteria to reach more people who need it;
  • Increasing the value of the grant.

“The meeting affirmed the need to work towards affordable and sustainable social protection mechanisms that complement job creation and drive local demand, with due consideration of the fiscal implications,” the Presidency said.

Although the government has not confirmed whether the R350 monthly grant will be extended, it has said that it intends to implement a basic income grant in South Africa.

“The president expressed his appreciation for the constructive manner in which the engagement took place, and the acknowledgment by the [organizations] regarding the unprecedented measures government has taken to help households face the economic devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Presidency said.

The reach of the SRD grant has grown significantly since its introduction, from 6 million to 10.3 million recipients a month. The Presidency said research confirms the positive impact of this grant in reducing poverty and hunger.

“President Ramaphosa expressed his deep concern around the hardship faced by the more than 13 million unemployed and impoverished people in South Africa and the need for government to protect the dignity of all its people while being mindful of the resource base,” the statement read.

“Recommendations from the [civil society organizations] for the SRD grant included improving the design of the grant; extending it, expanding the eligibility criteria to reach more people who need it, and increasing the value of the grant,” the Presidency said.

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