We did not miss Covid-19 vaccine payment deadline: Tito Mboweni

Government has until December 15 to make payment required to join vaccine scheme, finance minister tells parliament

04 December 2020 - 15:50
Finance minister Tito Mboweni.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Finance minister Tito Mboweni says SA has not missed the deadline to pay the R500m required for it to be part of the COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine distribution scheme.

The facility would give SA early access to a batch of vaccines required to protect front-line health-care workers and the public from the deadly coronavirus.

Mboweni told parliament on Friday that government had until December 15 to make the payment required to join the vaccine scheme.

He was responding to a question from DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis, who wanted Mboweni to explain how the government justified the R10bn rescue of SAA while missing the COVAX deadline. Mboweni responded that nothing could be further from the truth.

Hill-Lewis's questions were prompted by media reports that emerged earlier this week stating that the National Treasury had missed the payment deadline. This meant that SA would fall further back in the queue for the much-needed Covid-19 vaccine.

But Mboweni insisted that the reports were simply inaccurate, saying the government had until December 15 to make the R500m payment.

“I think it's very important that when you're an adult person, you must first inform yourself of all the facts before you open your mouth,” said an irritated Mboweni, during a debate to endorse the medium-term budget policy statement he presented in October.

“The fact of the matter is that we have sufficient time, until plus-minus December 15, to do the payment. So we've not missed the deadline at all and the Solidarity Fund stands ready to pay the R500m that has been promised.

“So we've not missed the deadline at all. Don't go around misleading people because you are misinformed. I don't know who misinformed you. Maybe it's honourable [John] Steenhuisen who misinformed you. I feel sorry for you.”

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