The cabinet met this week to discuss ways to boost SA’s economic recovery as well as the potential implementation of a basic income grant (BIG). The National Treasury and finance minister Enoch Godongwana made it clear at the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla earlier this month that the country simply cannot afford a BIG, nor could it fund various other projects on the wish list, while at the same time sustaining its bloated wage bill.
It is understood President Cyril Ramaphosa himself is pushing hard for the grant, despite the sober warning from his finance minister. But he too acknowledges that it has to be done in a "sustainable way". The BIG appears inevitable and what this means is higher taxes and increased risk to the fiscus. It also means that, once again, the ANC is throwing money at a crisis it created itself — its mismanagement of the economy and its inability to stimulate growth and create jobs. Its capacity to sustain and fund the BIG and the state’s ever-growing welfare burden will simply keep narrowing.
Politically, this week’s cabinet meeting marks a key test for Godongwana, who makes his debut appearance in the cabinet lekgotla.
Will he be able to withstand the pressure to push forward with the BIG, or emerge from the three-day meeting with a more fiscally palatable compromise?
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