The much awaited debate on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) is back in the spotlight again with Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya reportedly saying he is among the few people in government who support BIG.
One wonders whether this idea is fiscally viable in a developing country such as South Africa.
Those who support this initiative say it will be a solution to poverty and high levels of unemployment.
But the idea of BIG does not seem to be the ideal solution to deal with poverty and unemployment.
We need to be careful not to create a culture of dependency on the government.
Also, there is no guarantee that some people will not spend the money on unnecessary expenses, such as drinking and other such irresponsible things.
What we need is an effort to create jobs through public works projects and to strengthen income support by extending child support, pension and disability grants to more eligible recipients.
We should learn from the US experience in the 1970s that giving people welfare in some instances stops them from trying to help themselves. It simply makes them dependent on the benefits they receive and undermines the will to self-improvement.