Need to work towards sustainable social protection mechanisms: Chair

A meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and a collective of civil society organizations (CSOs) affirmed the need to work towards affordable and sustainable social protection mechanisms that complement job creation and stimulate local demand, taking duly consider the tax implications.

President Ramaphosa, supported by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, met with CSOs on Tuesday to discuss a proposal to extend and improve the R350 COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) beyond March 2022 and possible policy pathways for the introduction of a Basic Income Grant (BIG).

In a joint statement on Friday, the presidency said the meeting was organized in response to a request from the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), the Black Sash Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), #PayTheGrants and from Amandla.mobi.

“The President expressed his appreciation for the constructive manner in which the engagement took place and the acknowledgment by CSOs regarding the unprecedented measures that the government has taken to help households cope with the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19,” the presidency said.

SRD grant coverage has increased significantly since its introduction, from 6 million to 10.3 million beneficiaries per month.

Through this grant, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) have managed to reach many of the most vulnerable people in society.

The presidency said that research has confirmed the positive impact of this grant on reducing poverty and hunger.

“President Ramaphosa expressed his deep concern over the hardships faced by more than 13 million unemployed and poor people in South Africa and the need for the government to protect the dignity of all its people while taking into account the grassroots resources,” the statement said.

CSOs also presented research on the crucial role that social security plays in reducing poverty and hunger and improving socio-economic conditions.

“The recommendations of the CSO collective for the SRD grant included improving the design of the grant; extending it, broadening the eligibility criteria to reach more people in need, and increasing the value of the grant. the grant,” said the presidency.

The meeting agreed to further engage on the proposals as part of a wider consultation among all stakeholders on social protection measures appropriate to the country situation and the needs of the South African people.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)

Joel C. Hicks