Budget cuts across government to help pay for coronavirus funding: Mboweni

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has outlined government’s funding plans in response to the coronavirus pandemic currently impacting South Africa.

Speaking at a ministerial press briefing on Monday (16 March), Mboweni said that the primary source of funding will come from the National Disaster Fund – which is available immediately.

He added that the government is looking at further financial cuts as the pandemic drags on and costs continue to rise.

“As the situation develops we will need to set aside further funding,” he said.

“That means that we will have to reduce programmes throughout the government system, by reducing the allocated amounts so that we can shift these funds towards this (coronavirus) project.”

Mboweni added that National Treasury officials are also in contact with financial sector regulatory authorities to make sure that the banking and financial services sectors are coordinated.

“The key issue is to make sure that we don’t have a situation where we are unable to procure testing facilities or whatever else is necessary.”

Economic disruption 

In his weekly open letter to South Africa on Monday (16 March), president Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the coronavirus will be extremely disruptive and will likely cause damage to the economy.

“We have to address the inevitable economic fallout. We must expect a decline in exports, a drop in tourist arrivals and a severe impact on production, business viability and job creation and retention,” he said.

Ramaphosa added that his cabinet is in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

This is being done in consultation with business, labour and other relevant institutions, he said.

“South Africa has a positive track record in managing public health emergencies. We have the knowledge, the means and the expertise. Our scientists and epidemiologists are world-class.”

Read: Mass quarantines, emergency funding, and avoiding panic buying – here’s South Africa’s coronavirus disaster plan

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Budget cuts across government to help pay for coronavirus funding: Mboweni