National statistics service, Statistics South Africa, says that it will not be able to conduct the income and expenditure surveys (IES) this year or the next due to significant budget cuts totaling approximately R200 million.
These surveys are used to update the poverty statistics and the poverty line. However, in Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Supplementary Budget an R200 million budget cut was announced for Stats SA. This is significantly higher than the R20 million cut Stats SA says they would be able to afford. Stats SA also reduced their budget by R50 million which was allocated between travel and international standards of industrial classifications.
In a report to Parliament, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke announced that if the IES is not conducted, there would be challenges with South Africa’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).
According to Stats SA, the CPI measures the changes in prices of various consumer products. These changes then indicate the rate of inflation and are used as a cost-of-living index. Maluleke announced that the last IES took place in 2014/2015 and the poverty and inequality statistics and the poverty line have not been updated since then.
The Statistician-General says that either the IES would not be conducted or data on the Gross Domestic Product and quarterly labour force would be disrupted. Alternatively, there was a suggestion that changes are made to the 2021 census planning.
Some Members of Parliament responded that the statistics from the survey would assist in providing important insight on how South Africans have been affected by the Covid-19 health crisis.