An analysis of the post BudgetSpeech2022 roundtable, which was hosted by Brimstone Investments, saw South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana open the floor to promising and constructive comments. In particular, budget allocations for the health sector were warmly welcomed.
One of the highlights of the meeting, which was attended by ministers of Parliament and leading businessmen, was the comment by Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, welcoming the additional budget allocations to provinces, such as the Western Cape.
“We welcome the fact that after being forced to absorb huge budget cuts, additional allocations have now been given to provinces like the Western Cape,” Maynier said.
* R15.6 billion for health, to cope with the effect of budget cuts and the impact of Covid-19;
* 3.3 billion rands for health, to deal with the placement of medical interns and community service doctors; and
* R1bn for health, to deal with the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines.
“This will go a long way to helping provinces absorb huge spending pressures, especially in health care in provinces like the Western Cape,” Maynier said.
Continuation of the Covid-19 response
Echoing this sentiment on the budget allocation to provincial health departments, Dr. Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health, added: “We particularly welcome the increased budget allocation for strengthening public services. essentials, especially the financial allocation to provincial health departments to support their continued response. to Covid-19.
“We hope that – together with private sector partners – building on the solidarity developed during the country’s response to Covid-19, this can contribute to an integrated health system to improve access to high-quality care. affordable and improved clinical outcomes for all South Africans.
Medical plan tax credits
Commenting on the medical plan tax credits, Noach said: “The welcome 4.5% increase in medical plan tax credits is a progressive mechanism to improve access to health care, which keeps pace with wage inflation. This preferentially benefits low-income earners in the formal employment sector so that they can maintain their medical coverage.
“In the context of current regulatory considerations of low-cost employee benefit options (LCBOs), this could potentially complement employer contributions to enable access to affordable primary health care coverage for low-income employees. This is a key consideration for social benefits and economic productivity while easing the burden on public sector resources.
Imtiaz Sooliman of Gift of the Givers represented the non-profit sector. His comments on the budget speech criticized the government’s job creation opportunities, particularly in the health sector.
Call for more job creation opportunities in the service sector
“You can budget and buy all the equipment from the hospitals, but if there are no staff to run the hospitals, it doesn’t make sense,” Sooliman said. “Over 1,000 healthcare workers have died since Covid hit two years ago and we still haven’t replaced them. We need to impose a moratorium on job creation in hospitals.”
He talked about creating more work and training opportunities in the health sector for psychologists.
“We need a lot more psychologists. If you go to universities, they tell you that out of 300 students, they take 21 in Masters: 7 (Education; 7 (Counseling) and 7 (Clinical). The country is in a mess in terms of health care. If caregivers are asking for psychologists, can you imagine the shortage of psychologists for the rest of the country? For the police, the teachers? And the parents who have lost children, and the children who have lost their parents during the pandemic? We need to increase the number of psychologists – that’s job creation; with a goal linked to it.”
Corruption remains the main disruptor
Imtiaz also pointed to corruption as the main disruptor to economic growth in the health sector in South Africa. He pointed to the large discrepancy in payments for the purchase of medical equipment in oncology departments in the private sector compared to the public sector. “You can buy a machine in the private sector for R20 million and pay R100 million for it in the public sector,” he said.
“Corrupt corporations and organizations say governments are corrupt. But who corrupts government? Corporations have a huge role to play in corruption. That’s why we have State Capture and we need to fix the system,” he said. Sooliman. “This country needs morals and spirituality, values and ethics – we don’t need money. We need those values to fix the system and when those values are in place we can fix the system. country.”
Sooliman said the government should not be left to work alone to achieve this.
“We need government, as well as the private sector and civil society, to work together. Together we can set the tough love model for public enterprises (EPs) and create the service-oriented jobs we we need so much.”