We must look at whether R350 grant is sustainable, says Ramaphosa
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President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the ANC to look if it was possible to stop the unemployment grant of R350 in March next year and whether the fiscus can afford it.
He said the National Treasury has allocated R26.7 billion after the social relief of distress grant was revived.
Ramaphosa told the NEC lekgotla on Saturday that 12 million people have applied for the grant, and so far, seven million applications have been approved.
He said, however, the levels of poverty and unemployment were very high in the country.
The government has said the grants cushioned the poor after Covid-19 hit the country last March.
It was extended several times until the government decided to stop it early this year.
However, it was revived again after the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.
“We must interrogate how long our fiscus can sustain payment of measures, such as the social relief of distress grant, and how feasible it will be to terminate the grant in March 2022, taking the high levels of poverty and unemployment into account,” Ramaphosa told the NEC.
“It, therefore, becomes imperative that our social relief strategies complement our agreed economic reconstruction and recovery strategies that focus on poverty alleviation and solutions that build capabilities and aim to support people to enter the jobs market and become more economically active,” he said.
“National Treasury allocated R26,7 billion to pay beneficiaries of the monthly R350 SRD grant, and the cost of administration is R500 million. More than 12 million people had applied for this grant by 1 September, 43% from males and 57% from females. About 56% are those who previously applied, which may indicate that close to half of previous recipients may no longer need the grant.
“Sixty-two percent (62%) of the applicants are from young people aged between 18-35 years. We need to develop targeted programmes to assist these young people to enter employment and become more self-sufficient. Nearly seven million of these applications have been approved, and almost five million (4, 7 million) grants (68%) have been paid out by 1 September. There is clearly an acute need for and significant take-up of this grant,” he said.
Ramaphosa said Covid-19 has shown how deep the levels of poverty were in the country.