Increased allocations in grants, education and health

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The National Treasury will in the 2019/20 financial year set aside R567 billion for social grant payments, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced during the 2019 budget speech in Cape Town on Wednesday.

This, he said, was to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor, as the country tackles poverty and inequality.

Mboweni announced that there would be an R80 increase in old age grants, from R1 695 in 2018 to R1 780 in 2019.

Other increases are:

  • State old age (over 75): increases from R1 715 to R1 800 (5.0%)
  • War veterans: from R1 715 to R1 800 (5.0%)
  • Disability: from R1 695 to R1 780 (5.0%)
  • Foster care: from R960 to R1 000 (4.2%)
  • Care dependency: from R1 695 to R1 780 (5.0%)
  • Child support: R405 to R425 (4.9%)

According to the National Treasury’s 2019 Budget Review report, social grant coverage grows by about 2% per year.

In 2019, the report says, spending will rise from R162.6 billion in 2018/19 to R202.9 billion in 2021/22, at an average annual growth rate of 7.6%.

“Over the same period, the number of beneficiaries is expected to increase from 17.9 million to 18.6 million. By 2021/22, the old age grant will reach 4 million beneficiaries,” the report states.

By 2021, child support grant is expected to reach an estimated 13.1 million beneficiaries, the Treasury report says.

“However, in 2019/20 and 2020/21 funding decreases by R500 million each year due to legislative delays in implementing the Cabinet-approved extended child support grant for orphans who have lost both parents,” the report said.

The report adds that the spending on grant administration will grow at an average annual rate of 1.8%, from R8.4 billion in 2018/19 to R8.8 billion in 2021/22. This will include the costs of payment services provided by the South African Post Office.

“Future savings are expected as paypoints are consolidated and more recipients are paid through the National Payment System,” the report says.


Mboweni said the budget was proposing a total non-interest spending over the next three years of R5.87 trillion across all sectors. Considered in this figure is the R717 billion for health services (including National Health Insurance).

“In health, we need simple, effective interventions. We need more doctors and nurses. R2.8 billion has been reprioritised to a new human resources grant and R1 billion for medical interns. R1 billion has been added to raise the wages of community health care workers to R3 500 per month,” he said.

An added R319 million is being allocated to eliminate malaria in South Africa.

“The HIV/AIDS and malaria components receive an additional R1 billion in 2021/22 mainly to fund increased antiretroviral uptake, while the community outreach component receives an additional R1 billion to implement the minimum wage for community health workers in provinces. In line with the health sector’s ambition to eliminate malaria by 2023/24, the malaria component is allocated R318.8 million over the MTEF period,” the report states.

A further R30 million is allocated in 2020/21 and 2021/22 to co-finance a regional malaria prevention project in Mozambique.

An additional R1.4 billion is allocated to the health facility revitalisation component of the NHI indirect grant to construct the new Limpopo Academic Hospital in Polokwane over the next three years.

Some of this funding will improve existing tertiary hospitals in Limpopo, the report said.

According to the 2019 Budget Review Report, spending in health will annually grow by an average of 7% over the medium term.


In an effort to improve the education system, government will in the upcoming financial year allocate over R30 billion to build new schools and maintain schooling infrastructure.

“An additional R2.8 billion is added to the School Infrastructure Backlogs grant to replace pit latrines at over 2 400 schools. But to make certain these schools are effective centres of learning will also require parents to be a visible and constructive part in the governance of schools,” the Minister said.

This grant will also replace 147 inappropriate and unsafe schools, and provide water to 352 schools over the MTEF period.

“An amount of R19 billion is provided for learner and teacher support material, and R3.9 billion is allocated to fund 38 000 Funza Lushaka bursaries for prospective teachers in priority subject areas such as mathematics, science and technology.

“About 9 million learners at over 20 000 schools will receive daily meals through the national school nutrition programme grant, which is allocated R23 billion over the MTEF period,” the 2019 Budget Review report said.

Subsidised education and training for the poor, he said, is government’s flagship higher education intervention.

“Over the medium term government will spend R111.2 billion to ensure that 2.8 million deserving students from poor and working class families obtain their qualifications at universities and TVET colleges,” Mboweni said.

Government last year rolled out higher education and training bursaries for students from poor and working-class families. According to the report, spending on these bursaries grows at an annual average rate of 13.9% over the medium term.

Government will allocate R33.3 billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in the 2019/20 financial, a substantial increase from the R22.8 set aside in the 2018/19 financial year.

“Bursary spending is expected to rise from R27.1 billion in 2018/19 to R40 billion in 2021/22. This will cover over 1.3 million undergraduate students at universities and over 1.5 million students at technical vocational education and training colleges,” said the Treasury. –