A universal basic income could alleviate many of our crises, says researcher Hein Marais

Daily Maverick

n South Africa, the basic income grant (BIG) has been making news. The governing ANC will make proposals for a BIG of R350 at its National Policy Conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, at the weekend. 

However, Mervyn Abrahams, the Programme Coordinator of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity (PMBEJD) group, says a BIG of R350 is not enough with the food basket price spikes. 

“There has been a straight spike of increase of the food basket since February, not to disregard the yearly and pre-Covid increase as well. Since February this year, we have seen just an upward trajectory without balancing out or coming down on the cost of a food basket. As of July, our basket stands at R4,748.08. 

“This is an increase of R60 over the last month of June and a R611.44 (14%) increase over July of last year. The food price spikes are significant in that they affect affordability, meaning households have less income to spend on food. As a net outcome, households buy less and less food. R350 cannot afford a household a food basket,” said Abrahams at the virtual launch of researcher Hein Marais’ latest book, In the Balance: The Case for a Universal Basic Income in South Africa and Beyond. 

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