Friday, 22 January 2021 22:22

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has hinted that the country may need to borrow more money to foot the bill for the rollout of the vaccine.

In his leaked address to the African National Congress (ANC) lekgotla being held on Friday, the president said the programme was a public good that was vital to the wellbeing of all South Africans.

He added that it was correct that public funding should be used even if it meant increasing public borrowing.

Treasury warned earlier this week that it may have to increase taxes to raise the funds for the vaccines aimed at creating herd immunity by inoculating at least 40 million people.

The pandemic is set to ravage the global economy, however here at home, it may push public debt levels close to 100% of GDP sooner than projected.

In the address, Ramaphosa states that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will outline the funding challenges while guaranteeing that funds to save people's lives will be made available even if money has to be borrowed.

Just last year, Treasury secured loans from the International Monetary Fund, New Development Bank and the African Development Bank for the COVID-19 response.

However, it also recently admitted that it had no money to fund the vaccines, which have already been ordered with the first batch expected next week.

Ramaphosa said they were also engaged in talks with the private sector for companies to make a further contribution, either into a pooled fund or where employers cover vaccination at workplaces.

Meanwhile the ANC is holding its national executive committee meeting this weekend without one of its prominent members, Jackson Mthembu, who succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday.

The virtual gathering will consist of the party’s alliance partners, government deployees and stakeholders from strategic sectors.

Several ANC members have said they were struggling to come to terms with the loss.

Spokesperson Pule Mabe said the ANC lekgotla would focus on the priorities set out by party president Ramaphosa during the January 8 Statement.