Trevor plays hero to struggling poor

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel yesterday played hero to the poor and increased the grants they will receive from the government to cushion them against the impact of high food prices.

Manuel also announced a R20 increase of the child support grant to R220.

The first R10 increase has already been implemented since February and the other half becomes effective at the end of this month. Old age grants have been increased by R20 to R940.

Manuel said the increase was aimed at "taking into account the disproportionate impact of price increases on the poor".

Manuel announced a whopping R2,5billion earmarked to increase pensions for politicians.

Manuel also indicated that public spending would increase by R171billion more over the next three years compared to the R81billion increase allocated in the last Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

Provinces will also get an extra R300 million this financial year to cater for the growing number of people on antiretroviral treatment.

There were however criticisms against Manuel's budget.

The Association for Children's Entitlement to Social Security expressed disappointment that the budget did not make provision for the extension of child support grants to children aged 15, 16 and 17.

The Black Sash was also critical of the non-extension of the social grants .

"The government has left our teenagers to the elements, without the umbrella of a child support grant." the organisation said.