Human rights organisation, Black Sash, has slammed government’s alleged pretense that any extension or increase to the Social Relief Distress (SRD) grant must come at the cost of other budget concerns.
Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, will table his 2023 Mid-term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly today.
The 2023 mid-term budget will set out the policy framework for the 2024 national budget and indicate any adjustments that may be recommended to Parliament regarding the current year’s expenditure plans.
Wednesday’s budget will also seek to assess and explain the trade-offs and choices that must be made to ensure stable, balanced and sustainable economic growth.
Black Sash says they want to see the R350 SRD grant properly increased above R350 and extended until the introduction of a basic income grant.
The organisation’s secretary, Daddy Mabe, says they want to see a commitment to the dignity of citizens and common sense.
“We expect the MTBPS to try to avoid direct mention of the SRD and basic income entirely, forefront impossible job creation as an only solution, and discredit the idea of investing in our people via social spending.”
On Tuesday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation that the grant first introduced in 2020 has kept millions of people out of poverty, and continues to provide much-needed support for those who are unemployed.
“As we move to target spending on programmes that are working for the poor, we need to acknowledge that our social grants, including the SRD Grant, as well as our public employment programmes, are vital in supporting those who are vulnerable,” the President remarked.
He says programmes like the SRD grant have not only reduced poverty, but they’ve enabled recipients to search for jobs and to engage in other economic activities to support their livelihoods.
Economists have warned that the country is approaching a fiscal cliff.
Labour Federation, SAFTU’s Trevor Shaku, says while they accept that there may be a revenue-expenditure gap, they reject the characterisation of this gap as a fiscal crisis or an indication that the government has run out of money.
“Therefore, no budget cuts should be applied to public services and our SOEs should receive more investments from the government,” he says.
Shaku has also spoken out against the freezing of posts, halting procurement on goods and infrastructure, saying they should not go ahead as planned in the cost-cutting measures.
Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza