The GOOD party has launched its basic income grant campaign that is expected to be one of its main election priorities in the run-up to next year's general elections.
Calling it a "GOOD deal" the party is proposing a R999 basic income grant and says that not only can it be done, but that it must be done.
The party reasons, "Our starting point is that there is nothing more front line delivery than giving a poor person, who has zero income, cash."
Secretary General of the GOOD Party, Brett Herron, says that 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.
Section 27, in the Constitution of South Africa states:
27. (1) Everyone has the right to have access to — (a) health care services, including reproductive health care; (b) sufficient food and water; and (c) social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance.
What is the R999 Grant?
According to the National Development Plan, no South African should be living below the lower-bound poverty line and this is where the R999 figure comes from.
In 2022 it was estimated that the lower-bound poverty line was R945 per month. Meanwhile, the current Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant does not even cover half of this.
Herron explains that 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.
Currently, the SRD grant gives beneficiaries R350 each month.
"This amount has not increased since it was first introduced in 2020 and is funded until 31 March 2024. In April 2022, the food poverty line was R663 per person per month. Obviously, the R350 per month grant does not meet about half the current estimated food poverty line," says Herron.
The political party wants the R999 grant to be available to unemployed South Africans between the ages of 18 and 60.
Where will money for the grant come from?
Herron says that GOOD had conducted research as to the feasibility of funding a basic income grant from the national budget.
He notes that the research found that the increased grant could be funded through the likes of reducing the cost of provincial legislatures, provincial executives and resources allocated to offices of the premiers.
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.
In addition, Herron said there were several interventions government could introduce, including:
- Possible tax reforms which could include raising corporate taxes.
- Professionalising the public service so that government doesn't have to spend so much on consultants – currently R11 billion per year.
- Cutting out corruption and privatising rather than bailing out and dysfunctional state-owned enterprises
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.
However, the party also 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.