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If SA needs to borrow to fund COVID-19 vaccinations, then so be it - CDE

Centre for Development and Enterprise executive director Ann Bernstein said that getting the rollout going as fast as possible was the most important issue facing the country today.

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States on 24 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Government is preparing to start rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week while it grapples with the critical issue of funding.

Centre for Development and Enterprise executive director Ann Bernstein said that getting the rollout going as fast as possible was the most important issue facing the country today.

She was reacting to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement on Friday that the country would acquire more debt if it must to fund the vaccination programme.

Bernstein has for a long time sounded the alarm about the detrimental consequences of the country’s high debt levels.

She said that when coming to the COVID-19 pandemic, if money had to be borrowed, then so be it.

"If we have to borrow, then we need to borrow. That is the most important first step in getting growth going again, which is a key component in getting debt lower."

Bernstein has explained that the effects of the continued lockdown and disruptions to economic activity would be far worse than borrowing money now.

This despite the borrowing leading to higher debt levels for South Africa, which is already knee-deep in public debts.

Bernstein said that there was an ideal situation.

"In the existing budget, we look for the fat wherever it is, the millions and millions we spend on security for politicians, to the R10 billion we spend on SAA - which will not be R10 billion, it will be bigger when we're finished - there is money..."

The country is already borrowing more than R2 billion per day, with debt levels expected to reach 100% of GDP by 2025.

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