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Joe Phaahla warns budget cuts would affect health department

Health Minister Joe Phaahla. Picture; Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Health Minister Joe Phaahla. Picture; Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 10, 2022

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Cape Town - Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has warned the slashing of the budget of his department over the next two years, by 1.7%, would severely affect the provision of health care services.

Phaahla told MPs, during the tabling of his budget vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday, they wanted to revive the health sector after the devastation caused by Covid-19.

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He said budget cuts were not sustainable.

The budget had been allocated, of R64.5 billion and R55bn, will be transferred to provinces.

Several departments had been complaining over the years about the cut of their budgets by the National Treasury.

The Health Department was not spared either, with Phaahla saying this was not going to help the department.

“We are, however, concerned members that in terms of the indicative amount over the next two years of the MTEF (medium term expenditure framework) our budget will be declining by 1.7% nominally, even before considering inflation, which cannot be good for the sustainability of our health services,” said Phaahla.

But opposition parties said the health system was on its knees.

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Michele Clarke of the DA said corruption that plagued the department during the Covid-19 pandemic showed the government did not care about fixing the health system.

She said corruption has reached high levels and there was lack of accountability.

“The SIU had investigated 5 467 contracts awarded to 3 066 service providers, with a total value of R14.3 billion. Investigations into 4 549 contracts had been finalised, of which 2 803 were found to be irregular. This means that 61.2% of all procurement was irregular,” said Clarke.

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EFF MP Sophie Thembekwayo said the rot ran deep in the department, as corruption continued to mount, as shown during the investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said Covid-19 has exposed the levels of corruption in government.

The funds meant to benefit people were stolen by officials and private entities.

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