PUBLIC Works Minister Geoff Doidge says the government is on track to meeting President Jacob Zuma's promise of creating 500000 new jobs by the end of December.
Speaking to the media in Parliament yesterday, Doidge said between April and August this year, the Expanded Public Works Programme had already created 223568 jobs.
He said if a further 80000 jobs were "verified to be EPWP work opportunities, you will see we have exceeded the 300000 mark".
"Are we confident about the 500000? I'll tell you for the third time, yes we are," he said.
When asked if picking up litter for two days was counted as one job created, he said: "There is a definition that we are working to. It's not two or three days, don't worry."
But his office later conceded that they defined "work opportunity" as "paid work created for an individual on an EPWP project for any period of time".
If the same person were employed on different projects at different times, each new project they worked on was counted as one new work opportunity created.
Though Doidge promised a full breakdown of the jobs created, his office could only say that 149164 had been created in "infrastructure", 29235 were environmental, 33973 were social and 11106 were "non-state".
The "social" jobs created were mostly in early childhood development and community home-based care.
Meanwhile, Social Development Department director-general Vusi Madonsela said he had asked Treasury for an extra R200million to provide poor families with distress grants.
The grant, usually a food voucher, is for people who don't get any other grants and find themselves "in a desperate situation".
Madonsela said the increasing number of people asking for distress grants "has everything to do with the spiralling food prices".
He said government had spent R113million of the R136million it was allocated for 2009, but if the department received an extra R200million this would help them meet the peoples' needs.
The government had no plans to introduce a basic income grant for the poor. "The matter is currently not being debated in government," Madonsela said.