The National Treasury has proposed that from April 2022, the special COVID-19 social relief grant be extended by another 12 months.
In its Budget Review document, the National Treasury said while remaining on course to stabilise debt, government proposes raising spending in the areas of greatest need.
“The 2022 Budget provides for a 12‐month extension of the R350 per month special COVID‐19 social relief of distress grant. This will ensure the continuation of public support for poor households as the pandemic recedes,” the National Treasury said.
The National Treasury said South Africa’s comprehensive social wage has been significantly augmented in the last two budgets.
“Spending on the social wage has risen from 58.2% to 59.5% of consolidated non‐interest spending between 2019/20 and 2021/22, and nearly half of the population currently receives at least one social grant from the state.
“At the same time, a key weakness in economic performance has been persistently high joblessness, which lies at the root of poverty and exacerbates inequality.”
The pandemic has elevated the public debate on how government should provide social protection to poor and vulnerable households, the National Treasury said on Wednesday.
“The special COVID‐19 social relief of distress grant, like South Africa’s other social grants, has helped to alleviate poverty.
“However, in a context of overstretched public finances and persistently high unemployment, the continuation of such a social transfer must be matched by a combination of permanent spending reductions and tax revenue increases.
“Matching new spending with permanent revenue sources is prudent and responsible fiscal policy.”
The National Treasury said given the economic outlook, the current improvement in revenue performance is not considered permanent.
“The Presidency, the National Treasury, the Department of Social Development and interested parties are working on a sustainable long‐term approach to social protection consistent with government’s broad development mandate and the need to ensure affordability.” – SAnews.gov.za