Business, civil society weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine funding

The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Business and civil society organisations weighed in on how the country can raise money to fund the COVID-19 vaccination programme after Treasury’s admission that it is yet to identify sources for the billions of rands needed.

The government said it expected the delivery of the vaccines in coming weeks to kickstart the first phase of inoculations on frontline workers.

The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout.

While it’s unclear whether banks would be willing to go this route as the major partners in the scheme, the chamber’s Mtho Xulu said it was worth exploring.

“This scheme should rather be restructured to unlock immediate funding for government on the back of the guarantee that Treasury has already offered on the scheme.”

This week, Treasury said it might have to raise taxes to finance the vaccines amid warnings by economists that this would deepen the hole in the pockets of a population that is already overwhelmed by mass job losses and increases in the cost of living - inevitably harming the struggling economy even further.

Speaking in Limpopo earlier, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said they were counting days until the arrival of the vaccines.

“There is quite a lot of work that we’ve done in the preparation for vaccination and we will be starting our vaccination programme in February.”

Meanwhile, Mmusi Maimane’s One South Africa movement suggested that Treasury should impose a special tax on politicians and senior government officials to contribute to the vaccines programme that is estimated to cost R20 billion.

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