Hearing ANC members cheer during yesterday’s budget speech over more people being on South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants is definitely not a good story to tell.
This is according to economy experts, who have pointed to government’s previous praise of the number of people it has on Sassa grants and hailing it as a success story.
“There are certain categories of Sassa grants that, while required, paint a sad picture,” said Bernard Sacks, senior tax consulting partner at Mazars said.
“On the one hand it shows we are looking after those in need and, yes, of course we must. But we would like to be able to reduce the number of people in need who have to rely on these grants.”
South Africa’s high rate of unemployment is part of the reason there is such a high rate of grants, he added.
“Seventeen million people are on Sassa grants, which is an extraordinary high number considering that we have a population of approximately 55 to 57 million. It’s virtually one in three people having a Sassa grant.
“I think that is the reason why the focus of the new administration is going to have to be on growth and improving employment,” said Sacks.
Economist Mike Schussler said it made no sense “that we should pay all these grants and yet our inequality increases”.
“Sassa grants are only helping the poorest of the poor.”