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ANC policymakers endorse a basic income grant, but it i...

Business Maverick

BUSINESS MAVERICK

ANC policymakers endorse a basic income grant, but it is still far from being implemented

(Photo: Gallo Images / Waldo Swiegers)

The ANC social transformation subcommittee said getting a decision from the government on a basic income grant, drawing up financing mechanisms for it and getting Parliament to approve it could take up to two years.

ANC head honchos have proposed two key income-relief measures for poor people hit the hardest by the Covid-19 lockdown: the extension of the R350-a-month social grant beyond January, and the introduction of a basic income grant (BIG).

The R350 social grant was introduced by the government in May 2020 to provide relief to individuals above the age of 18 who are unemployed, do not receive any income or any other social grant or support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme or the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

By December 2020, payouts of more than R15-billion had been distributed by the SA Social Security Agency to up to 8-million beneficiaries. But the social grant scheme ends in January and there is no indication of whether the government will extend the scheme for as long as lockdown rules remain in place.

Economists, academics, and civil society groups have long argued that the introduction of a basic income grant will go a long way to provide income to people who have lost their jobs due to lockdown restrictions, have no income, or cannot find an entry point into the job market.

Unlike other social grants that are targeted to specific beneficiaries, a basic income grant is universal as it is offered to every person – from birth to death – regardless of whether that person has an income.

The ANC National Executive Committee’s (NEC’s) three-day lekgotla – a meeting to discuss the governing party’s priorities for the year – resolved to extend the R350 social grant beyond January and for the state to develop a policy framework to introduce a basic income grant.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has come under fire from labour and business representatives for tightening lockdown regulations to Level 3 since 29 December 2020 without announcing additional income-support measures to the public, including the extension of the R350 social grant.

In a 132-page presentation to the lekgotla, the ANC social transformation subcommittee said extending the R350 social grant would be easier than introducing a basic income grant. This is because a policy mandate regarding the basic income grant has to be drawn up by the governing party and the government before the grant can be introduced to the wider public.

The committee said: “A policy mandate is required by the government from the current governing party since the BIG was not part of its 2019 manifesto for its current term. Normally resolutions are taken at a policy conference [of the ANC] in the year preceding an election.

“However, given the current crisis and the need for the urgent decisions to address the devastating humanitarian crisis facing the country, it would be opportune for the NEC to exercise its leadership and authority to provide/amend policy guidance within the current administration.”

The subcommittee said getting a decision from the government on a basic income grant, drawing up financing mechanisms for it, and getting Parliament to approve it could take from one to two years.

Thus, the subcommittee said, the R350 grant should be extended beyond January and be “used as the interim measure to serve as the foundation for the BIG”.

“Proceeding with the termination of the [R350 social] grant will be a huge setback for advancing the BIG agenda.”

The subcommittee said between R55-billion and R200-billion would be required from the state to fund the R350 social grant and basic income grant for an unspecified period, depending on how they are implemented.

The ANC’s economic and social transformation subcommittees plan to draft a report on the mechanics of how the basic income grant can be introduced. A first draft of the report will be presented to the NEC in February and the final report will be completed in May.

Civil society group the Black Sash, has proposed a targeted approach in introducing the basic income grant, saying the state cannot afford to provide a universal, cradle-to-grave basic income grant to every person during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Black Sash has proposed that the grant initially target those aged 18 to 59 and caregivers who already receive the child support grant. DM/BM

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All Comments 3

  • Where will the money come from seeing SA is bankrupt??? Squeeze the ever-diminishing tax payer probably. The government ATM that keeps on giving – as these halfwits believe. Or raid the pensions through prescribed assets! Let the unions pay a portion of their blood money and force the overstaffed, bloated and inefficient civil servants and ministers to give up a portion of their huge salaries, especially the latter. These people have been earning full salaries plus all benefits whilst the rest of the country suffers dearly through job/livelihood losses or forced salary cuts. So easy to pontificate and steal from Peter to pay Paul when it doesn’t affect them one iota.

  • Brace yourselves for added subversive and hidden attempts to part you from your money – like added “admin” costs on traffic fines, levies on your cell-phone account for online “broadcasts”, additional fuel levies, increased taxes on VAT, PAYE, Investments (including pension funds) etc., increased toll fees, extra levies on water, power, rates & taxes, higher fees for government services – vehicle licences, drivers licences, ID documents, passports, marriage licences, school fees etc. It will be surreptitious & cunning but it will be inevitable. Also expect to see a whole lot more public money “redistributed”!

  • Even as this sounds like good news brewing, it does not add to basic sustainability that is sorely required and is prerogative for anyone born, especially in South Africa. Such sustainability is not cash money at all, but awareness/responsibility towards value itself – of particularly basic everyday and accessible resources – peace, water, air, good soil, good seed, time/patience, sobriety, debate. In my humble view, the planned government grant should be exchangeable as commitment by recipient individual recipients/citizens’ to basic responsibilities – generally to upkeep of human rights, and value-adding practices in the use, upkeep and protection of resources as above. Hopefully this may well translate into an engagement of individual citizens in the responsibilities of governing or even more radically progressive – congruence between cultural and business ethics.

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