Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly told the ANC’s national executive lekgotla meeting that the government may increase public borrowing to fund South Africa’s vaccination drive.
Ramaphosa reportedly told the ruling party’s top decision-making structure that the procurement of vaccines was for the public good and was vital to the well-being of South Africans, therefore public funding would be used – even if meant borrowing the money to fund it.
The NEC is holding its lekgotla and the meeting will run throughout the weekend. The ANC and Ramaphosa had indicated the issue of the Covid-19 will dominate discussions.
Ramaphosa said getting a loan to fund the vaccines was important.
“We are also engaged in discussions with the public sector for companies to make a further contribution, either into a pooled fund or where employers can cover the cost of vaccination for their workforce.
“Many of them have shown a willingness not only to help with the vaccination initiative of their employees but also people living in surrounding communities. Some of these companies are in the mining industry,” Ramaphosa said.
While National Treasury was this week also reportedly considering a tax hike as another means to fund the vaccination drive, the proposed move has been heavily criticised by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) which has slammed the government’s consideration of raising taxes to fund the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive.
Outa says the government should raise the money for vaccines by cutting on spending on vehicles, properties and other assets for all political office bearers at all levels, reassessing SOEs and selling off those entities that “add no real value to South Africans”.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said that raising funds for the Covid-19 vaccine was an opportunity for the government to show South Africans that it is serious about reducing the cost of a bloated government, unprofitable SOEs and recovery of funds lost to corruption.
Duvenage said obtaining the necessary funds to pay for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan was urgent but increasing taxes should be a and last-resort.
“How is society expected to take the government seriously when they had plans to bail-out a failed state airline with more than R15bn, whilst crying out for tax increases to vaccinate the nation and bring an end to the pandemic in South Africa?” Duvenage asked.