Government considering increasing child and pension grants temporarily
The government is considering topping up some of the social welfare grants paid to millions of poor South Africans to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Yes, I can confirm that we are looking at adjusting temporarily the child-support grant and old-age pension grant," finance minister Tito Mboweni said on Tuesday.
Mboweni was addressing journalists about interventions made by the National Treasury to help in limiting the economic impact of the virus.
He said a firm position would be taken on Wednesday, but indicated that people tended to gravitate towards the old-age grant.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet is expected to meet on Wednesday to consider several economic proposals to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
A coalition of NGOs and academics wrote to Ramaphosa last week calling for an immediate R500-a-month increase to the child-support grant for six months.
"This measure is critical to mitigate the devastating impact of Covid-19 on children, families and the economy. Currently, the child support grant is the simplest, quickest and most effective way to get cash into millions of poor households that will otherwise face food insecurity and debilitating poverty," they said.
They cited experts who estimated that food poverty rates for households relying on income from the informal labour market could more than double over the three weeks of the lockdown. They added that as the depth of poverty increased, more people would go hungry - including millions of children.