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A closer look at the R100 billion that government’s put aside to create jobs amid COVID-19

Yesterday Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled his Supplementary Budget Review to the National Assembly, unpacking some of the initiatives he was aiming to bring to the fore to address some of the issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19. One subject that particular attention was the creation of jobs.

It holds significance this week especially as Stats SA confirmed that the country’s unemployment rate has risen to 30.1 percent during the first quarter of this year.

As such, uncertainty in the local employment landscape is creating a lot of concern among citizens. In order to tackle this, Mboweni said R100 billion would be set aside for initiatives over the next few years.

“The figures from yesterday show that unemployment is our single greatest challenge. The Economic Support Package sets aside R100 billion for a multi‐year, comprehensive response to our jobs emergency,” the minister explained.

“The President’s job creation and protection initiative will be rolled out over the medium‐term,” he adds.

Looking at 2020 in particular, the minister noted that a repurposed public employment programme and a Presidential Youth Employment Intervention will be two areas that will receive attention from the Economic Support Package.

“In this year, an amount of R6.1 billion is already allocated, and a further R19.6 billion has been set aside mainly for this purpose,” Mboweni confirmed.

Shifting focus to other initiatives aimed at South Africans who are not currently employed, the minister highlighted both the UIF and temporary COVID-19 grant systems.

Regarding the former, he noted that an estimated R23 billion has been provided to 4.7 million applicants affected as a direct result of COVID-19.

“This has required a huge upgrade and repurposing of the UIF system to deal with the increase in mostly online applications, and to build in protections against fraud,” he noted.

“There are still challenges but we are confident that the team is working tirelessly to iron them out,” the minister continued.

Ending on the COVID-19 grant system, Mboweni said an additional R25 billion would be allocated to the Department of Social Development, bringing its available funding to R41 billion. This relief package is expected to end in October too, he concluded.

[Image – Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash]

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