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Finance minister told to maintain social grants despite austerity measures

THE COUNTRY gears up for Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s first Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), and civil society has been campaigning for increases in the unemployment grant among other extensions.

Finance minister told to maintain social grants despite austerity measures

Organisations such as Cry of the Xcluded and the SA Federation of Trade Unions say while they expected very little for the impoverished from the statement, the least Treasury could do was maintain some of the social assistance grants as was.

Cry of the Xcluded and the Unemployed People’s Movement representative Khokhoma Motsi said the ANC-led government had already implemented a veiled austerity budget against the poor and as a result, they had little hope of a departure from this norm.

Motsi had this plea for Minister Godongwana: “There is nothing important that we are expecting, but we are saying to him, ‘please stop austerity, please stop cutting the budget in terms of municipalities, education and health.’ Those are our expectations.”

At the last MTBPS, former Minister Tito Mboweni announced a series of budget cuts to several social services as the government clamped down on spending.

Meanwhile, as the country’s largest trade union federation – Cosatu – has called for a new mass stimulus package, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has expressed a desire to see government depart from its goal of cutting the public sector wage bill by over R300 billion.

Saftu’s Trevor Faku said: “Treasury aims to cut the public sector wage bill by R303 billion in the next three years. A profound attack on the state’s ability to hire needed staff and fill vacant posts.”

Civil society has also called for the introduction of a comprehensive basic income grant, which Godongwana has spoken against before.

The minister will present his maiden Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) today in Parliament.

Image (Under pressure. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana – austerity measures is the way).

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