Government is considering a wide range of interventions in an effort to relieve the burden of the soaring cost of living on poor households, says Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.
The Minister made the comments while responding to questions from members of Parliament on Wednesday when Ministers in the Economic Cluster appeared before the National Assembly.
Godongwana was asked what steps National Treasury was taking in this regard. He said government had in recent months suspended and decreased the general fuel levy amid soaring prices. Government had also introduced the Social Relief of Distress Grant for the unemployed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In terms of income support… in our own situation, we have to focus broadly on what is called a comprehensive social security, of which income support is but one part. There’s a level of social insurance that needs to be coordinated properly.
“There are active labour market interventions that we need to coordinate.”
The World Bank has also conducted some studies in terms of looking at what are the key labour market activities that South Africa has.
“Income support needs to be located as part of that strategy. There are discussions that are taking place at the moment as to what is the appropriate income support that we need to [provide] as part of that broader social security compact,” Godongwana said.
The Minister was also asked what plans National Treasury has to mitigate the current effects of load shedding on food prices.
He said until load shedding is addressed, this is going to be “going to be difficult”.
“What we’re analysing is how to minimise the impact on income. In other words, what instruments of income support we need to deliver to support vulnerable communities. That’s the one way,” he said.
Secondly, he said, the long-term goal is to avoid load shedding.
“That’s the aspect which government is dealing with. We’ve set up a committee. Three members of that committee are sitting here (in Parliament)… looking at the electricity crisis in the economy.”
A key element of that, Godongwana said, is Eskom loading 46 000MW capacity onto the grid.
He stressed that officials are looking into different income support measures, and should these materialise, plans will be presented at next month’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
Godongwana said Cabinet is prioritising remedial steps to address the deficiencies identified in the country’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing activities.
The deficiencies were identified by the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering and terrorist watchdog. South Africa has until February 2023 to avoid greylisting in this regard.
The Minister said government has activated various interventions in this regard.
This includes the introduction of two bills in the National Assembly in July and August 2022 to address deficiencies in the legal framework and technical compliance deficiencies.
The two bills are the General Laws (Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill) and the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorists and Related Activities Amendment Bill. Both bills, Godongwana said, are currently before Parliament.
“If enacted into law before the end of this year, [they] will represent a substantial and critical step towards preventing greylisting.
“However, we have to do more than enacting these two bills into law. We also have to demonstrate greater effectiveness by achieving the outcomes expected of well-performing anti-money laundering and terrorist financing system,” he said.