Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has set aside R34 billion to extend the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant by another year.
Godongwana presented the National Treasury’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement that was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
The SRD grant was introduced in 2020, when Covid-19 hit the country. The government said at the time that it was meant to cushion the poor and vulnerable.
Godongwana announced the SRD grant would remain at R350 and extended it to the end of March 2025, despite a push by unions and civil society that proposed an increase in the grant.
Unions and civil society said an increase in the SRD grant would be able to sustain many people who were not in the labour market.
Godongwana told Parliament on Wednesday that the provisional allocation would be retained “while a comprehensive review of the entire social grant system” was finalised.
He said the grant was introduced to support low-income individuals affected by the lockdown, and no policy decisions have yet been made on the grant and no funding solution has been agreed to.
“For this reason, the 2023 budget reiterated that any extension of the grant, or any replacement thereof, needs to be funded by a new revenue source or reprioritisation of other spending items,” he said.
In his statement, Godongwana stated that the current “fiscal space” was too constrained to extend the SRD beyond 2025 without additional funding.
However, last month, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said she would approach Cabinet to approve the draft policy on the Basic Income Grant before it was fully implemented.
Zulu said moves were already afoot to extend the SRD grant of R350 to the unemployed until 2026.