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South Africa allocates an extra R4bn to fight Covid-19

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South Africa allocates an extra R4bn to fight Covid-19

Photo by Reuters

4th May 2021

By: Reuters

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South Africa has allocated an extra R4-billion to buy Covid-19 vaccines and extend a special distress grant to thousands of people hit by the pandemic, in a Special Appropriation Bill tabled by the finance minister on Tuesday.

The bill, expected to be debated with the National Treasury in a parliamentary committee meeting later on Tuesday, allocates an additional R1.25-billion to the department of health to purchase Covid-19 vaccines and another R2.82-billion to social development for the distress grant of R350 per person.

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South Africa - the worst-hit country on the continent in terms of reported coronavirus infections and deaths - has struggled to kickstart a mass vaccination programme, inoculating just over 329 000 health workers with Johnson & Johnson's shot as part of a research study, while it waits for its first batch of commercial doses to become available.

It has ordered 31-million doses of J&J's one-shot vaccine and 30-million doses of Pfizer's two-shot vaccine, enough for a combined 46-million of its 60-million people.

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On Sunday it received its first weekly batch of Pfizer vaccine, with the US pharmaceutical giant expected to ship 4.5-million doses by June.

The Special Appropriation Bill also made adjustments to funding for struggling state airline, South African Airways (SAA), which last week exited a local form of bankruptcy protection called business rescue after roughly 17 months.

South Africa's government had previously pledged R10.5-billion to SAA as part of a turnaround strategy, but R2.7-billion rand had not been handed over as yet.

The adjustment makes allowance for SAA's units, such as low-cost airline Mango and its technical division, to also get financing, with R819-million earmarked for Mango and just over R1.6-billion for SAA Technical.

"Despite the effective date of this Act, the appropriation for the subsidiaries ... must be regarded as an appropriation and expenditure for the 2020/21 financial year," read the Bill.

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