Government pumps R145bn into SA's coronavirus fight

Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivered his supplementary budget speech on Wednesday.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivered his supplementary budget speech on Wednesday.
Image: Kopano Tlape / GCIS

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has made R145bn available to fund the government’s Covid-19 efforts.

In the supplementary budget tabled by Mboweni on Wednesday afternoon, the biggest allocations are for social grants, health, education and local government.

Around R41bn has been set aside for social grants, which have been expanded over the next six months in order to cushion the blow for the most vulnerable. This includes a R350 social relief grant to up to 8-million people who are unemployment or employed in the informal economy but receive no other grants.

“Over 18-million South Africans have received a temporary Covid-19 grant. The rollout of the short‐term Special Relief of Distress grant will temporarily support those without an income. An additional 1.5-million people have received these already,” said Mboweni.

"To support vulnerable households an additional allocation of R25.5bn to the social development department is proposed, for a total relief package of R41bn. All these measures will come to an end in October.”

The department of health, which has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, has been allocated an R21.5bn to battle the pandemic.

The minister said that the allocations had been informed by “epidemiological modelling,” as well as the government’s experience of the pandemic over the past three months.

“We have successfully increased our 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. We have tested over 1.3-million people,” he said of the government’s efforts so far.

Municipalities will finally be able to make use of the R20bn, which was also announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the government's R500bn coronavirus spend.

The departments of basic and higher education have been allocated around R12bn, while around R6bn has been set aside to support small and informal businesses.

Last week, small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshaveni said her department had estimated that it would need R13bn in order to provide adequate support to those sectors.

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