The Ministry of Health says the €454.4 million (about R7.6 billion) loan South Africa receives from the World Bank will go a long way in protecting the lives and livelihoods of citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic.
World Bank SA Loan
World Bank and National Treasury this week announced backdated approval of a loan to fund the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program, but the loan was met with criticism from some opposition parties and unions.
The Ministry of Health on Thursday said that while a huge portion of the loan will be used to pay for vaccines, mostly purchased by the government between December 2020 and June 2021, the additional financial resources will also give the government the flexibility to pay for other priority Covid-19 programs. response actions.
“The Ministry of Health welcomes the government’s continued efforts to prioritize the health system, including the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Because we know that the country and the global community are not yet out of the forest, this infusion of additional financial resources received from the World Bank will go a long way in protecting the lives and livelihoods (sic) of our people from this. life-threatening health problem,” department spokesman Foster Mohail said. statement.
Mohale added that the loan, which is part of the South African Covid Emergency Response Project, will create favorable conditions for other donors, multilateral development banks and United Nations agencies to further support vaccination efforts in the country.
Youth urged to get an injection
This Youth Month, the Ministry of Health called on young people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as vaccines remain the most effective weapon against the virus.
“We also like to encourage our people, especially young people, to get mass vaccinated as well as booster doses to boost their immunity levels against current and future options of concern as the country gets closer to achieving herd immunity.
“As the country celebrates Youth Day to pay tribute to the lives and sacrifices of the 1976 generation, to recognize the role they played in the liberation struggle of South Africa from the chains of the apartheid regime, we encourage young people to actively emulate them, participate in the struggle for a long and healthy life for all South Africans.”
Opposition to World Bank loan
Meanwhile, some opposition parties and unions have expressed concern about South Africa’s rising debt obligations.
Democratic Alliance (DA) said the loan from the World Bank would cause the government to deplete the R1 trillion budget over the next three years on paying interest on the debt.
District Attorney MP Dion George said they would ask Treasury Secretary Enoch Godongwan what the terms of debt repayment were and also introduce a private member bill to ensure financial accountability.
“The ANC government loan from the World Bank is another clear sign that South Africa has run out of money and is driving hard-working taxpayers into a deeper and deeper debt trap that is crowding out more and more services for the most vulnerable members of our society. George said in a statement.
In the same time South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) also raised concerns about the loan, saying it would further undermine South Africa’s economic sovereignty.
“The recent statement announcing the new loan did not specify how much interest would be charged on the loan so that the public could judge for themselves whether the interest was fair or not.
“This is a breach of debt, as a typical World Bank loan has a higher interest rate than local loans, not only due to the expected fall in the currency – for example, from 15.3 to 16.2 rand in recent days – which means that repayment is taking place at a much higher effective rate. In addition, the bank usually imposes neoliberal terms.”