Jobs more important than basic income grants

The People's Budget Campaign (PBC) coalition repeated its call yesterday for a basic income grant for all South Africans.

The People's Budget Campaign (PBC) coalition repeated its call yesterday for a basic income grant for all South Africans.

"Although the proposed R100 is too little, it can make a difference to the dignity of the people," said South African Council of Churches (SACC) general secretary Eddie Makue.

The PBC, which consists of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the SACC and the South African Non-governmental Organisation Coalition (Sangoco), was launching its People's Budget for 2008/09 in Johannesburg, ahead of finance minister Trevor Manuel's Budget announcement in Parliament today.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the basic income grant was not the first option, as people needed proper jobs. "Nobody wants to grow up and be a government dependant forever. People want to build themselves homes. The problem is that people are not working; that's why you need the social security," he said.

He added that the government should restructure the economy away from sectors, such as mining, metals, heavy chemicals and automotive, in order to alleviate poverty and generate sufficient employment opportunities.

Vavi said that the government was failing to create jobs, as unemployment had risen by 10 percent between 1995 and 2005.

The coalition said that there was an increase in inequality as 40 percent of the population earned less than R2500 a month, while company chief executives earned millions a year. It said that government would not meet its goal of halving unemployment by 2014 if current economy policies were not restructured.

Although it welcomed the staging of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as this would boost tourism, it said the tournament would not solve unemployment. "It will not address the crisis of unemployment and poverty in rural areas ... Only the host cities will benefit," Vavi said. - Sapa

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