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Fiscally, SA is completely outmanoeuvred. Covid, by destroying more than a million jobs, has caused the need for social support to explode, at the very moment when SA’s public finances are dangerously overstretched.To prevent a humanitarian disaster, the government extended the special R350 a month Covid relief grant from October 2020 to the end of April. But it remains under intense pressure to not only make the grant permanent, but to use it as a step towards a universal basic income grant (BIG) for adults aged 18-59 — the group that falls outside the social security net.For instance, Wits University’s Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) argues for the Covid grant to be extended at a cost of R29bn a year or, better yet, the introduction of a universal BIG at the food poverty line of R585 a month.A BIG would cost about R157bn a year for the 22.4-million adults not formally employed and would be "affordable", the IEJ says, if it is financed through cost-cutting and a slew of tax h...

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