Govt allocates R6 billion more for special R350 Covid-19 grant

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Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
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  • An additional R6 billion has been allocated for the special R350 Covid-19 relief grant and would be paid to South Africans, permanent residents, refugees and asylum seekers.
  • The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled in June that the Social Relief of Distress Grant be extended to asylum seekers and special permit holders.
  • So far five million people have been paid the special relief grant.

Government has allocated an extra R6 billion to fund the R350 special Covid-19 grant for those without an income as well as asylum seekers and special permit holders.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu revealed in response to a written parliamentary question from Freedom Front Plus MP Tamarin Breedt that the initial allocation for the R350 grant from May to October was R3 457 696 700. 

Breedt wanted details on whether her department has made any additional resources and/or funding available to assist with the growing number of applicants for the grant.

The question was posed in light of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruling that extended the Social Relief of Distress Grant to asylum seekers and special permit holders.

READ | Furious MPs grill Lindiwe Zulu over food parcels, social grants

Zulu said: "Motivation was done to National Treasury to indicate that this would not be sufficient. In the special adjustment budget of 24 June, an additional amount of approximately R6 billion was provided for this relief grant."

Budget

She said the additional amount of R6 billion was made available in the special adjustment budget for this grant and was intended to cater for all who qualified, "not only the asylum seekers and special permit holders".

"The department has amended the directions to accommodate asylum seekers and special permit holders from Angola, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, as directed by the court," Zulu said.

The revised directions were published on 2 July.

Zulu said the R350 grants were for South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees registered on the Home Affairs database.

READ | The SIU has been let loose on Covid-19 corruption

"Holders of special permits under the special Angolan dispensation, the Lesotho exemption permit dispensation and the Zimbabwe exemption permit dispensation, and asylum seekers whose section 22 permits or visas are valid or were valid on 15 March," she said.

News24 reported that a rough estimate showed it would need R700 million to successfully pay out the R350 grant, which is part of government's emergency measures to provide some relief for people not receiving any form of assistance or income as the country battled the coronavirus.

In April, the government budgeted R407 million for the Social Relief of Distress grant. Last week, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) said it approved 1.2 million of the 3.2 million applicants for the grant.

More recently, Zulu told Parliament that so far, five million people have been paid the R350 special Covid-19 relief grant.  

In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the R500 billion social and economic support package to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The stimulus package amounted to some 10% of the country's GDP.

A total of R130 billion of the amount would be supported by reprioritising funds from South Africa's existing budget.

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