Tax hikes to fund Covid-19 vaccines?

By Jacqueline Mackenzie

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s National Treasury is considering raising taxes as one of several possible mechanisms to fund the vaccination drive against Covid-19, Business Day reported.

At this point South Africa is due to get 9 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, 1.5 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 12 million through Covax and 12.25 million from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, according to the daily newspaper.

Read also: Covid-19: AU secures vaccines for 1 in 4 Africans

The government viewed the vaccines as a public good and was committed to financing their roll out, with or without support from the private sector and medical schemes, the Johannesburg-based newspaper reported, citing Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane.

Read also: SA Medical Aids to pay for 14 million Covid-19 vaccines

Other options the Treasury is exploring include widening the budget deficit and re-prioritising government spending. The pandemic was a good case for emergency funding, Business Day cited Mogajane as saying.

The department of health has estimated a maximum cost of R20bn ($1.3bn) to vaccinate the entire country, while more recent internal estimates done by the Treasury are far lower than this, the newspaper said.

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