Pressure mounts for Finance Minister to introduce basic income grant

Business

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana faces mounting pressure to introduce a universal basic income grant (BIG) and drop austerity measures amid crippling poverty and rising unemployment levels in South Africa.

A group of about 70 members of the Assembly of the Unemployed (AoU) yesterday staged a sit-in at the National Treasury, calling for the implementation of a BIG and protesting against budget cuts.

The AoU and other civil society movements have long campaigned for the implementation of a BIG of R1,500 a month for all unemployed between the ages of 18 and 59.

AoU spokesperson Princess Majola said the grant should also include caregivers, home-based workers, and workers who earned below the national minimum wage.

“This will bring much-needed relief to millions of South Africans who are languishing in poverty,” said Majola.

“We are disappointed that President Cyril Ramaphosa failed to announce the implementation of a decent basic income grant during the State of the Nation Address last week.”

In his address, Ramaphosa said government would extend the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant for the unemployed, to March 2023.

Ramaphosa said any future support must pass the test of affordability and not come at the expense of basic services, or at the risk of unsustainable spending.

There are currently 12.9 million unemployed people in South Africa under the expanded definition, putting the government under enormous pressure to introduce a basic income grant.

 

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