The government has allocated an additional R4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines and a R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant extension.
This is according to a Reuters report which stated that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had tabled a Special Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Tuesday (4 May).
Parliament to debate bill
The bill reportedly allocates an extra R1.25 billion to the Department of Health and R2.82 billion to the Department of Social Development.
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations is expected to debate the bill on Tuesday afternoon. Should it approve it, there will be a further extension of the R350 SRD grant.
The government introduced the grant in April last year to cushion society’s most vulnerable from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was initially meant to last for six months, but was extended in October last year and again in February this year.
The SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) announced last week that the grant was ending on 30 April and that it will not accept new applications.
Calls for R350 SRD grant extension
In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for a further extension of the grant, especially from civil society groups led by Black Sash which launched an online petition last week.
The petition also calls for the grant’s increase from R350 per month to R585 per month. It is addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mboweni and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
“Millions of our people live in fear that the SRD grant won’t be renewed. This is unacceptable,” the petition states.
Last week, EWN reported that Zulu had asked National Treasury for funds to extend the grant.
“We are also conscious of the fact that we are not the only ones looking for finance from Treasury. We are hoping that when they look at the issue they may look around maybe find the money and continue with it,” she reportedly said.