R5.9bn set aside for fight against Covid in Gauteng, says finance MEC
Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko has announced a R5.9bn allocation towards the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the province.
Nkomo-Ralehoko made the announcement while tabling the province's R142.6bn budget at the Gauteng provincial legislature on Thursday.
“A total of R5.9bn in new money has been allocated over the 2021 MTEF [medium-term expenditure framework], the bulk of which will be focusing on defeating the Covid-19 pandemic, and for which the Gauteng department of health will be receiving R2.8bn, largely one-off allocations.
“The existing baseline for medicine will also be boosted by R624m over the MTEF, while funding has also been allocated for the data capturers necessary to help facilitate improved performance information management, as well as ensure timely performance tracking and management at the coalface,” said Nkomo-Ralehoko.
She said her department has also set aside R565m conditional grant funding for the rollout of vaccines.
“The department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs will receive a one-off amount of R20m for the ward-based Covid-19 response committees, which is carried through from a similar amount allocated in the 2020 special adjustments budget.”
She said the office of premier David Makhura will also be allocated a one-off R15m for the payment of students working at the Covid-19 call centre hotline, which she described as an integral part in the fight against the pandemic.
Nkomo-Ralehoko painted a grim picture of the Gauteng economy and the affect Covid-19 has had on it.
She said resourcing the response to the pandemic has left the provincial fiscus with little leeway and resource allocation for this year's budget had been met with intense contestation.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said because of the economic situation, it was important for the province to now start seeking alternative sources of funding for their projects and priorities.
This, she said, could be possible by either seeking partnerships with state-owned entities or “other spheres of government, or through bilateral or multilateral development partners, as a way of leveraging on resources outside the fiscus in achieving the objectives of the sixth administration”.
“In the coming year, Gauteng provincial treasury will be finalising the formulation of a framework for official development assistance, in order to clarify the process of seeking and receiving donor funding.”
She said Covid-19 severely affected the economy of Gauteng.
“At the height of lockdown restriction measures during the second quarter of the year, Gauteng’s GDP by region (GDP-R) contracted by 50.5% quarter-on-quarter on an annualised rate, and by 17.6% on a yearly basis.
“Over 600,000 jobs [were lost] during this quarter, accounting for the highest number of job losses in the country, and more people slipped deeper into poverty, widening the inequality gap further.”