R21,5bn set aside for Covid‐19 spending in supplementary budget
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday proposed R21.5 billion (US$1.2 billion) for Covid‐19 related health care spending in a supplementary budget tabled in reaction to the pandemic.
In a speech to Parliament via video conferencing, Mboweni also proposed a further allocation of R12.6 billion to services at the frontline of South Africa's response to the health crisis.
"Allocations have been informed by epidemiological modelling, a national health sector Covid‐19 cost model and our experiences over the past 100 days," he said.
"This money partly supports increased screening and testing, allowing us to open up more and more of the economy."
He said the country had successfully increased its Covid‐19 bed capacity to above 27,000, identified 400 quarantine sites with a capacity of around 36,000 beds across the country and deployed nearly 50,000 community health care workers to screen millions of South Africans.
South Africa had tested over 1.3 million people, he added.
Mboweni said the country's nine provinces would add at least R5 billion for an education catch‐up plan, social welfare support for communities and the provision of quarantine sites by public works departments and responses in other sectors.
Tariffs had been agreed with private hospitals to supplement public sector capacity.
The finance minister said the government remained deeply concerned about the path of the virus.
"But, in common with several other countries that adopted a stringent, early lockdown, we have “flattened the curve” and saved lives," he added.
"The storm is not over. But, if we follow the health guidelines and make the right decisions to prepare for a new global reality then, soon enough, the days will grow calmer."