Cosatu: Establishment of basic income grant regime requires political will

Parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) have had the issue on their agenda for some time now but there’s been no significant movement despite the apparent signs of deepening poverty due to the pandemic.

Social distancing is enforced at a shopping centre where social grant recipients are collecting their payouts on 30 March 2020. Picture: @The_DSD/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union federation Cosatu said that the establishment of a basic income grant regime in the country required political will and it has criticised the slow pace of discussion on the matter.

Parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) have had the issue on their agenda for some time now but there’s been no significant movement despite the apparent signs of deepening poverty due to the pandemic.

With the mid-term budget policy statement less than two months away, Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said that discussions on the basic income grant should be expedited.

He added that the social relief of distress grant had been proven to empower people beyond just food provision, making a case for this grant despite criticism that it would not lead to economic regeneration.

"You cannot expect people to wait for jobs to come in a couple of years' time. What do they do in the meantime?" he said.

The Institute for Economic Justice has cited international examples where the income grant has had positive multiplier effects in economies.

The institute's Neil Coleman explained: "People with access to income has many beneficial developmental impacts in terms of stimulating local economy, in term of promoting small business in the informal sector and also in encouraging women and work-seekers, in general, to go into the labour market."

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that government would explore the provision of the basic income grant - new Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, however, believes that the system would lead to dependency.

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