20 years later government still ‘discussing’ basic income grant

Even as the push for a comprehensive grant gathers pace, civil society organisations doubt the political will is there.
Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu says a Basic Income Grant is under 'urgent consideration' by national government. Civil society organisations are sceptical. Image: Shutterstock

The Department of Social Development says it will proceed with plans to introduce a new basic income grant, but civil society organisations say they remain sceptical that government has the political will to introduce a grant any time soon.

In her budget vote speech last month, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said that the need to introduce a basic income granthas become an “urgent consideration” for national government.

Zulu said that the Department of Social Development (DSD) “has developed a basic income grant(BIG) discussion document” and was starting consultations “targeted at developing the BIG financing mechanism for the unemployed population group that is aged 19 to 59 years”.

In November 2020, the DSD invited civil society organisations to make submissions on its discussion document which would then be presented to cabinet.

When GroundUp requested the revised document, DSD spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said “when the document is ready for public consumption, it will be shared with everyone”.

In October 2020, the Black Sash launched a petition demanding the government introduce a grant of R1,268 for unemployed citizens between 18 and 59 years. The petition was endorsed by over 80 organisations.

Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker, of the Black Sash, said the organisation saw the discussion paper as a positive step, but the government has been considering the implementation of BIG since 2002 (when the Taylor Commission considered it, and it was discussed in Parliament).

“Almost 20 years later, this issue has still not moved beyond a discussion,” she said. “No time frames have been given for when this process will be completed.”

“Given the immediate humanitarian crisis and the Covid-19 third wave, it is imperative that government reinstates the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant indefinitely, until such a policy [BIG] is in place,” said Abrahams-Fayker.

She said civil society organisations are urging government to develop a policy framework and to secure a budget for the phased-in implementation of permanent Basic Income Support by 1 April 2022, for those aged 18 to 59 years who have little to no income.

National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) executive director Lisa Seftel said that its social security task team has investigated the feasibility of BIG and submitted its research along with the DSD’s draft discussion document.

“Once the Department of Social Development has published a policy document for public comments, the proposals will also be tabled at NEDLAC for social partners to consider,” said Seftel.

Speaking at a webinar about the termination of the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant, July Eccles of the #PayTheGrants campaign said that “the overwhelming feeling on the ground” remains sceptical about government’s political will to establish an income support grant.

Organisations affiliated with the campaign had previously sent letters of request to meet with government in January, February and April 2021 to discuss the implementation of BIG. Despite follow up requests to secure a date for the meeting, they have not received a response.

“People are really tired of empty promises from political parties,” said Eccles. “Overwhelmingly, people are aware that a lot of this is used as political football, similarly to the promise of job creation,” she said.

Eccles said, “The DSD is open to the conversation, but every time they come back to us they tell us they cannot extend the grant or look at BIG because Treasury has given them a limited budget … But we can’t have a conversation about balancing the books when people are desperate.”

Responding to a written parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance, Zulu said that the DSD currently has a social assistance budget of R190 billion, from which more than 18 million South Africans are receiving grants.

“Over the past 20 years, the budget has been kept constant at around 3% of the national gross domestic product (GDP), thus staying more or less in line with the economic performance of the country,” said Zulu.

According to a Bloomberg report, the ANC previously proposed paying a R500 monthly grant to people aged 19 to 59, and it would cost the state R197.8 billion a year.

National Treasury replied to GroundUp that the requests made by civil society groups were “sent to several departments including National Treasury” and that “government will respond in due course”.

© 2021 GroundUp.

This article was first published here.


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Lord have mercy. Child grants, old age grants, unemployment grants.
Where is all the money coming from?

I’ve said it over and over. If the basic income grant gets introduced in SA, it should replace the current social grant. You can’t have both. Which doesn’t imply that I am for such stuff, but rather what is desperately needed in SA and that is job creation and especially not in the public sector.

“Creating” jobs in the public sector is not job creation. This fact should be well understood.

So are we going to end up with:

Free electricity
Free water
Free housing
Free schools
Free healthcare
Free university
Free data
Child grants
Subsidized commuter transport
Basic income grant

Was this the FREEdom we had in mind?

If you give a man a fish, he will eat today, but teach a man to fish and he will eat forever.

Someone, somewhere, already planned to loot that grant.

A good look at the photo means that they want to live in absolute squalor — Handout do NOT work —

“and it would cost the state R197.8 billion a year”

Yet more utter leftie ignorance, right their in that uninformed little jewel. The state has no money. No, it will cost the approximately 2m people who pay the vast majority of personal tax R200bn extra per year. Which is a simple calculation: each of these 2m people will have to cough up an additional R100,000 per year each.

Which ordinary working person can see his tax bill rise by R10k per month? This will cause complete and instant economic devastation.

It will probably be actioned as a last resort for “vote catching” purposes once the ANC’s national vote is reduced to less than 50%. The budget would then have to make provision for an extra R80 billion rand per annum based on the assumption that there are currently at least 11 million unemployed citizens in S.A., each receiving, say R500 per month. This equates to about R66 billion per annum. Add in another R14 billion (or more for fraud, double-dipping, illegal immigrants, etc.) giving the aforesaid amount. All collected from the 6 million PAYE taxpayers nogal!!

The priority for implementation will be the creation of a BIG directorate within Social Development, with a BIG Board of deployees enjoying BIG remuneration packages.

How much of the population has grown and been streamlined for these grants. The amount of people gets bigger and bigger and the economy gets smaller and smaller. You figure out the end game. Almost Gone!!

End of comments.



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