The poorest of the poor in our country were looking forward to the 2021 Budget to alleviate their plight but the Budget presented by Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni fell short of their expectations.
Whilst the Inkatha Freedom Party in KwaZulu-Natal acknowledges the increases in the various social grants, we consider such increases as meagre and insufficient. Increases of R10 and R30 is an increase of just 1.6% which is below the inflation rate. This so-called increase will be swallowed up by increases in the fuel levy and the 15% increase in the electricity tariff that was announced recently. The increase in the fuel levy will have a negative impact on transport costs which will see bus and taxi fares increase. We are bound to see the transportation cost of goods increase with the knock-on effect being felt in the price of goods especially food. The combined increases in such basic essentials will wipe out the meagre increases in social grants.
Those who depend solely on social grants for their daily existence will find it even more difficult to make ends meet. Over the past few months we have witnessed hundreds of people spend long hours outside post offices to collect the R350 a month Social Relief of Distress grant. Those long queues were indicative of the desperation of our people and the urgent need for government to throw a lifeline to the poorest of the poor. The elderly and those with severe health problems that renders them unable to work require a safety net that will give them peace of mind. As we face the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 virus, emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.
The unemployment rate in our country was recently set at 32.5% which in effect translates into 7.2million people who cannot find jobs. Many of these employable people will now be forced to depend on the grants that their parents and grandparents receive thereby placing greater strain on those who are already struggling to live on their social grants.
Unfortunately the Minister of Finance failed to give hope to the 17million grant-dependent people in desperate need of financial support from the state.
Hon Les Govender MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Social Development,
083 974 4894