Healthcare receives the smallest budget allocation in social services

While other social services have seen budget allocation increases in billions of rands, health has only seen an increase of R200 million in its budget allocation for 2023, prompting questions as to whether the 2023 budget is an austerity budget aimed at cutting expenditure.

However, Acting Director General of the Treasury Ismail Momoniat denied that the budget is austerity, citing misappropriation of funds in the health sector and reforms introduced to curb corrupt activities as some of the reasons for the relatively small increase in benefits.

“We need to introduce reforms to arrest the way in which budget allocated to health is not being spent on health. It is not an austerity budget,” says Momoniat, citing the case of the assassinated whistleblower Babita Deokoran who was shot and killed in 2021 allegedly for exposing corruption involving funds misappropriation in the Gauteng health department.

An additional R15.6 billion was allocated to learning and culture, R14.1 billion increase to social services, while a R23,4 billion increase has been allocated to community development, notably dwarfing the health allocation increase.

“In health, the funds are to hire new staff, address shortfalls in compensation budgets, and retain additional health workers appointed during the pandemic, as well as to clear the backlog in health services,” says Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

General government spending is set to increase with post-schooling education seeing the least increase at 6,0% and social development seeing the biggest increase at 16,9%.

Meanwhile, Godongwana says with the government will be taking R254 billion of Eskom debt, which is expected to increase government debt.

R340.5 has been allocated for debt service costs, with Godongwana noting that this meant 8 cents of every R1 from the revenue would go towards servicing the country’s debt.

“Debt-service costs are projected to average R366.8 billion annually over the medium term, reaching R397.1 billion in 2025/26. These are resources that could otherwise be used to address pressing social needs or to invest in our future,” says Godongwana.

“There are risks to the fiscal outlook. These include a worsening of the economic outlook, a further weakening of the finances of state-owned companies, and an unaffordable public-service wage agreement.”

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Source: SABC News (