Wages are too low and cost of living too high - National Planning Commissioner

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released a report that South Africans living in poverty in the year 2015 were worse off than they were in 2011.

Stats SA's Poverty Trends report shows that 30.4 million South Africans are living in poverty. It also shows that while poverty was reduced in the country between 2006 and 2011, it has now worsened again.

What is causing poverty levels to increase in the country? How can poverty be reduced?

Stephen Grootes, 702 host, spoke to National Planning Commissioner Dr Miriam Altamn about these stats and what they mean for the country.

Altman says the report is an excellent review of information.

What it doesn't give you, is a trend.

Dr Miriam Altman, Commissioner in the National Planning Commission

The key message in this report that people should take away is that income poverty fell dramatically between 2006 and 2011.

Dr Miriam Altman, Commissioner in the National Planning Commission

Read: Stats SA boss describes state of poverty in SA: 30 million living in poverty

That's what one would expect in a low growth environment explains Altman. She goes on to say that it is important to note the strengthened social wage.

In 2006, 66% of people were living in deep poverty and now 51% are not much better off, she says.

There's no doubt we need structural reform, stresses Altman. She says there are two sides of the poverty story.

One side is that we do need to strengthen the social wage - and the cost of living is too high relative to what people earn. On the side, is the side of growth, which is the long range solution to this problem.

Dr Miriam Altman, Commissioner in the National Planning Commission

Altman explains that the politics of the moment is not the key issue in relation to our long range growth trajectory.

She says South Africa has had this problem for thirty to forty years and it is common to economies such as this. Mineral's economy tend to grow more slowly, be less diversified, have high-income inequality, much conflict and very little investment in human resource development, she explains.

What we see in South Africa is very common to the kind of country that we are. And there are some countries that have broken out. It is possible to break the pattern but it would require long term political commitment.

Dr. Miriam Altman, Commissioner in the National Planning Commission

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