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The national disaster fund will be used to finance preventative measures for Covid-19

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said on Monday that money from the national disaster fund will be made available to ensure that the government can tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). 

He did not mention the exact amount of money that will be granted by the fund but he added that, if there is a need, additional money will also be shifted from different departments and put into the fight against Covid-19. 

“As the situation develops, we will need to further finance. That means we need to reduce programmes throughout the government system by reducing the allocated amount so that we can shift funds to this programme,” said Mboweni. 

The minister, together with other South African ministers, as well politicians around the globe, have been addressing the media about their plans to tackle the spread of the virus. 

Mboweni added that the key issue is to make sure the country will not be in a situation where it is unable to procure equipment such as testing facilities or whatever else is necessary to tackle the virus. 

“I am happy that Minister [Nathi] Mthethwa is willing to suspend some of the activities so I can take some money from him and give it to the minister of health,” said Mboweni.

Mboweni was referring to arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa saying events would have to be cancelled because of the national disaster declaration on Sunday by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mthethwa had said that he is going to meet sporting bodies and the arts and culture sector tomorrow to plan a way forward. 

The minister of finance mentioned that the government has instituted structural arrangements between the national treasury and the department of health. 

The structure will see members of the executive council (MECs) of finance co-ordinating with the MECs of health regarding the resources needed.  

“This is a structural arrangement, to make sure we are co-ordinated and not haphazard,” he explained. 

While detailing several measures that the country will take to deal with the virus, the president mentioned that Covid-19 will have long-lasting effects on the economy. 

He added that the Cabinet is in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected effects of Covid-19 on our economy. These will consist of various fiscal and other measures. 

ministerial address oin measures taken to limit spead of corona Photo Delwyn Verasamy

At the briefing, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel said Cabinet has identified six areas that the government will seek to support to contain the spread of the virus, and to ensure there are economic means to fight the pandemic. 

These are:  

  • Securing supplies of basic public hygiene and medical stocks;
  • Monitoring the effect of the virus on the global economy and on critical export channels on which South Africa is dependent; 
  • Industrial measures to protect against infection
  • Organisation of industries to address potential downtime and shutdowns;
  • Discussing measures to deal with the anticipation of an economic slowdown; and 
  • Securing supply chains and dealing with the disruptions. 

Patel said further details will be provided at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) meeting scheduled for Monday evening. 

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Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

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