Minister defends welfare system

Cape Town - Social Development Minister Edna Molewa defended government's welfare system on Tuesday amid reports that South Africa had become the "biggest welfare state" in the world.

"It is difficult for the government to close its eyes and look at people when they are suffering and do not have anything to eat," Molewa said at a social development cluster briefing in Cape Town.

"The [government] grant system was not intended to be permanent, particularly in the area of young mothers.

"Through the programmes we have, we are moving towards empowering people who are on the grant system, particularly young mothers."

Dependency ratio 'unsustainable'


Economist Mike Schussler, speaking after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget speech last week, said South Africa was now "the biggest welfare state in the world" and that the government's grant system was unsustainable.

"Look at South Africa's dependency ratio - it's three people to one taxpayer and it's unsustainable," Schssler said.

The social grant expenditure is estimated at R89bn in the current fiscal year.

In his budget, Gordhan increased the state pension available to South Africans over 60 by seven percent to R1080 per month.

The child support grant, worth R250 per month, increased by four percent over the past year. Its age limit for beneficiaries was increased to age 18, up from 15. The additional cost of this extension to the state is R12.2bn.

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