The government is aiming to finalise Basic Income Grant (BIG) plans in the next financial year, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has said.
In a statement issued earlier this week after Zulu’s participation in a BIG mini-debate in Parliament last week, Zulu’s Department said she was “encouraged” by “all parties” being in favour of BIG’s implementation.
Basic Income Grant debate sparked by SRD grant
The Department said the Basic Income Grant debate was sparked by the introduction of the R350 COVID-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant last year.
The government allocated at least R17 billion to this grant, which was targeted at unemployed adults aged between 18 and 59 to cushion them from the pandemic’s impact.
“Since we began payment in May 2020, the grant has reached an average of 6 million adults per month, who would otherwise have had no other means of survival,” the Department said.
It added that the proposed BIG policy has “received widespread support” during consultations with various stakeholders, including civil society, academia and organised labour.
Next financial year target
“The determination of the appropriate path is a mammoth task that requires us to combine the lessons we have learned at home with international best practices to come up with creative ways to chart a pathway for our own country,” the Department explained.
“The BIG is part of a broader agenda to ensure universal coverage of all citizens in a comprehensive and coherent social security system.
“We hope to finalise our proposals, including financing options and implementation pathways, in the coming financial year, following which we will seek Cabinet and approval of the necessary legislative processes.”
The government is therefore seeking consensus through a social compact “with the sector, government, organised labour, community and business constituencies.”
The ANC first agreed to explore the feasibility of a BIG during a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) in July last year. In October, President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that while government was not yet able to afford the grant, discussions should continue.
In March this year, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities also launched the National Youth Policy (NYP) 2020-2030 which calls for a BIG.