S. African government boosts spending on vaccination program

2021-02-24 16:55:43 GMT2021-02-25 00:55:43(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday said the government would set aside more than 10 billion rand (0.68 billion USD) to purchase vaccine in an effort to eradicate the coronavirus in the next two years.

Delivering the budget speech for the year ahead in Parliament, Mboweni said that "we are allocating more than R10 billion for the purchase and delivery of vaccines over the next two years."

Mboweni also announced that more budget would also be allocated towards the vaccine program.

"We increase the contingency reserve from R5 billion to R12 billion to make provision for the further purchase of vaccines and to cater for other emergencies," he said.

As the government's debt levels continued skyrocketing, the minister said debt would be stabilized in coming years.

"Our borrowing requirement will remain well above 500 billion rand in each year of the medium term despite the modest improvements in our fiscal position," he said, adding that "consequently, gross loan debt will increase from R3.95 trillion in the current fiscal year to R5.2 trillion in 2023-24."

He said the economy was expected to improve and grow at 3.3 percent in the current year after contracting by more than 7 percent last year.

Jannie Rossouw, head of School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, said the projected economic growth was "realistic." He believed government's plans to reduce its debt depended on the "control of the public servants wage bill."

The state plans to cut the wage bill to reduce its spending in the next three years. Enditem