The GOOD Party has proposed that a basic income grant of R999 per month be introduced in order to assist the 8 million people that are currently unemployed in the country. South Africa’s unemployment rate currently sits at a shocking 32,9%, a 0,2% increase from the previous quarter.
With food prices rising, inflation soaring and job creation a serious concern, an estimated 8-15 million South Africans are left hungry, unemployed and unable to afford their basic needs.
What Is The R999 Basic Income Grant?
The party suggests that the R999 grant be available to all unemployed South Africans between the ages of 18 and 60 years old. This comes amidst the run-up to the 2024 elections, where alleviating poverty appears to be GOOD’s main campaign focus.
Secretary General of the GOOD Party, Brett Herron, says that the Government is not adequately looking after the poor people in the country, thus failing the Constitution, which states that it must support those who are unable to provide for themselves.
Can we afford to leave 8 million unemployed South Africans in a severe state of hunger, failing in our constitutional obligations and increasing the levels of anger and desperation in our society?
The National Development Plan says that no South African should be living below the lower-bound poverty line, which is where the amount of R999 came from.
This would be a massive increase from the R350 per month Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant beneficiaries currently receive from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). For the majority of beneficiaries receiving this grant, it is not nearly enough to make a noticeable difference. Furthermore, this grant has not increased since it was first introduced back in 2020, and at this stage has been extended until March 2024.
In 2022 it was estimated that the lower-bound poverty line was R945 per month. The SRD grant does not even cover half of this.
The amount of R999 is meant to meet the lower-bound poverty line, with a small amount left over for a travel subsidiary, mainly for the purpose of job-seeking.
Where Will The Money For This Grant Come From?
With some tweaks to the current tax regime, the Good Party believes that it is more than possible for the Government to afford this basic income grant.
High tax reductions are available to those who take out retirement savings, however, Herron believes that this is excessive and only benefits the wealthier people in the country.
South Africa has one of the highest inequality rates in the world, and each year the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. These tax reductions further exclude the poor.
An increase in company tax has also been proposed as one of the methods to make this grant possible, as well as cutting out corruption and privatising.
“Adopting an approach of zero-based budgeting and closing inefficient government programmes that don't yield a satisfactory return on investment, including but not limited to reducing the number of ministers, ministries and departments,” suggests Herron.
A problem, however, is that food prices have recently skyrocketed, along with inflation. This means that the grant would have to increase each year in line with inflation, which may become unaffordable for the Government.
After conducting research, GOOD concluded that R999 was the maximum that this grant could go with funding from the National Budget.
This fiscus would cost approximately R100 billion per annum. South Africa has a budget expenditure of R2,24 trillion, meaning that this grant would make up only 2% of the annual budget.