Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – Parliament has announced a seven-week extension to the closing date for written submissions on the controversial National Health Insurance Bill to 29 November.

Initially written submissions, which opened at the beginning of September, were set to close next week on Friday, 11 October.

"The Portfolio Committee on Health has, over the past weeks received requests from stakeholders and individuals, appealing for the extension of the closing date for written submissions on the NHI Bill," said a statement issued by the Parliamentary Communication Services on Wednesday. 

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the chairperson of the committee, said: “We have been considering the requests from relevant stakeholders who play an important role in the delivery of healthcare in the country. Having considered these requests, we have actually agreed to extend the closing date for written submissions to 29 November 2019.”

Dhlomo said stakeholders proposed mid-November as the closing date for written submissions. 

"The committee has agreed to extend the closing date by two weeks more than the time requested by the stakeholders as there will be no other extension for written submissions," said Dhlomo.
 
The portfolio committee on health chairperson said the new closing date for the written submissions does not affect the start of the public hearings that are scheduled to begin on 25 October 2019 in Mpumalanga Province.

Detractors warn the NHI will see taxes rise, extend inefficiencies and poor services presently experienced at state medical facilities to private institutions and destroy private health insurance.

However, the government insists that the NHI will ensure all South Africans have access to "universal healthcare".

Dhlomo said written submissions must be directed to Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba and be addressed to the Portfolio Committee on Health 3rd floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town 8000, e-mailed to [email protected] or faxed to 086 6943279 by 29 November 2019. 

In addition to the written comments, the committee urged those who make submissions to indicate it they would be interested in making a verbal presentation.
 
Copies of the Bill can be obtained at www.parliament.gov.za

African News Agency/ANA