President Cyril Ramaphosa says a hawk’s eye will be kept on the billions allocated towards relief funds as the country deals with containing the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Ramaphosa had earlier this week announced a wide-ranging package which will bring social and economic relief to citizens and industries that have been greatly impacted by the national lockdown, which was implemented to curb the spread of the virus.
The lockdown began in late March and from May 1 the country will go into an eased Level 4 lockdown approach, which is aimed at reopening the economy. The economic and social package will see around R50 billion allocated to municipalities in need of funds, R20bn will go towards health care and procuring essential equipment and some of the funds will go into expanding the social grant system.
The expansion will see an increase in funds toward social grant beneficiaries for six months while an income grant for the unemployed will also be implemented. The total economic package is R500bn. There have been concerns from various corners that the funds could be abused by unscrupulous politicians. Ramaphosa said he did not want to see any of that happening and had approached the Auditor-General to ensure systems were in place to ensure the money was spent in the correct areas.
“We are going to keep a hawk’s eye on how the money will be spent. I spoke to the Auditor-General and said we need to put in place systems on a proactive basis to prevent the abuse of resources that we are putting in place. So that money does not end up in people’s pockets,” he said on Friday at the Nasrec Expo Centre where he viewed a quarantined facility.
Ramaphosa said he did not want to have to deal with a request for an inquiry into missing funds when the crisis around the coronavirus was over. We have heard there have been stories that some of these (food parcels) have ended up in the hands of councillors. We are taking proactive steps. I do not want to hear of a commission request after, I do not want to hear of a Covid commission therefore we want to take proactive steps,” he said. Ramaphosa was at the Nasrec Expo Centre on Friday to view a facility put in place by the Gauteng government to help treat the possible in-flood of patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He said he was impressed with the work being done in the province. Gauteng has the second-highest confirmed cases at 1 252 cases with 8 deaths. The national figure took the highest jump of 318 on Thursday, taking confirmed cases to 3 953. He announced a risk-adjusted easing of the lockdown which will entail five stages. From May 1 some industries will be allowed to operate, but heavy restrictions on social gatherings and movement will remain restricted.
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