Dlamini defends R130bn in grants payouts
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Pretoria - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has defended the R130 billion given out in social grants, saying grants are not a luxury.
She said grants provided cover and protection to the poor and vulnerable groups.
Dlamini, who was briefing the media in Parliament on Wednesday post-her budget vote, said critics of the grants should consider the social factors pushing the state to get more people on the social security net.
The budget for social grants was R130bn for 16.1 million people.
Critics argued that the system was not sustainable because of low economic growth, poor jobs and lack of skilled labour.
This has had unintended consequences of creating a nation dependent on social grants.
The economy was growing at less then 2 percent despite the government pushing for 5 percent in five years.
Ratings agency Moody’s said the economy would not achieve 3 percent growth in the next two years while the National Treasury has projected 2 percent growth this year.
Dlamini’s special adviser Zane Dangor said there should be no outcry on the number of people on grants because this was not a dole system, where government supported able-bodied unemployed people. “We only spend 3 percent of our GDP on social grants, which is not huge,” said Dangor.
He said despite the projection of low economic growth the social grant system remained sustainable.
South Africa has been shown by studies to be one of the best performers on social grants.
Child support grants, which take up a huge chunk of the social grants of R130bn, has grown from 100 000 in 1994 to 11 million beneficiaries.
The other categories of grants beneficiaries are the elderly, who constitute 3.1 million people. The rest are disability grants, foster care grants, military veterans and care dependency grants.
Dlamini said it was wrong to suggest that grants were a luxury.
“If you look at the number of children that are grant recipients, it shows that we are taking families out of the cycle of poverty. Our children do go to school and they take a meal a day,” she said.
The Department of Social Development also clarified that its policy on new beneficiaries of social grants was still being finalised.
It has been proposed to raise the age limit of child support grants from 18 to 21 years.