By Anees Teladia
While petrol price increases continue to drown the South African people, the effects thereof are further reaching than many might consider. The Black Sash advocacy group has come out to highlight these far-reaching effects and seeks to pressure government into making some changes that the group believes would provide much needed relief to the poorest of the poor in South Africa.
In pursuit of change and progress, Black Sash national director, Lynette Maart has outlined three proposals to address concerns and believes that these three proposals would be a turn in the right direction.
“If one looks at the proportion of money spent by poor people, a large portion is on food, rent and then services. So, when petrol increases, transport costs increase. When transport costs increase, the food crisis worsens. Even if the petrol price decreases, the transport costs don’t. Food prices are pushed up because of petrol and transport cost increases.”
“It’s a never-ending story for the poorest of the poor,” said Maart.
Maart then outlined her three proposals for government.
“The child support grant is at R420 and the food poverty line is at R550. We think government can increase the child support grant to R550 so that at least the food poverty level is taken into account.”
“At the moment, there is no income support for those between the ages of 18-59. If you struggle to find a job you have no income support and what happens is that in poor households where income is received through child support grants, the adults also live off that money. We think government needs to consider some form of income support for these people aged 18-59 who struggle to find jobs.”
“Last year we saw that government addressed the shortfall in the 2018/2019 budget by increasing Value Added Tax (VAT). Yet, when we look at it now, we see the portion of money increased bailed out state entities like Eskom. That increase the poor felt the most. There need to be other food goods added to the list of exempted VAT goods,” said Maart.
Maart added that Black Sash is in a coalition with a range of organisations and that they continue to speak to government on these issues.
“We must continue our efforts to speak up, advocate and apply pressure to change policy. We need to think about our poor people and what can be done for them.”