SA can’t afford NHI – economist

Staff Writer | Aug 28, 2019
Nedbank analyst Busisiwe Radebe says the fiscal space does not exist for the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Radebe, a Nedbank economist, told the 2019 Tax Indaba in Sandton, Johannesburg, that South Africa simply could not afford the proposed NHI system.

NHI is a proposed overhaul of the country’s healthcare system, and is intended to provide all South Africans with free, quality healthcare. It has been criticised by many across the political spectrum, but the government seems intent on implementing it, despite even its own evidence showing it is unlikely to succeed.

According to Radebe, the economy is simply not growing at the pace necessary to fund NHI. She said the two priorities for the country should be fixing Eskom, the debt-laden electricity provider, and creating an environment capable of stimulating jobs growth. She also highlighted the government’s own studies showing the failure of NHI pilot projects.

Radebe said: ‘We need to fix Eskom, that's the most important thing, before we can even think about NHI.’

On the same day, minister of health Zweli Mkhize assured delegates at a Hospitality Association of South Africa conference in Cape Town that NHI would be efficiently run by ‘qualified and competent professionals’. He also said that the NHI would not face the same kind of debt issues as Eskom, as it would be governed under different legislation.

 

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