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1 year of lockdown: Private sector, govt must repair economic scarring together

25 March 2021 7:16 PM

Economist Isaah Mhlanga is one of the voices on a special edition of The Money Show marking one year of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Remember the rising panic when President Cyril Ramaphosa first announced the news of a national lockdown in response to Covid-19?

It's been a year since that first "family meeting" on 23 March 2020.

A lot has gone wrong during that time and a lot has also been learned.

As The Money Show commemorates 12 months of lockdown, Bruce Whitfield invites a number of strong voices to reflect and also look forward.

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The focus in March 2021, is of course on the halting progress of the vaccine rollout in South Africa.

RELATED: SA's vaccine rollout update: Pfizer is up next says Bhekisisa Health's Mia Malan

It's the top priority, says Martin Kingston, leader of the Economic Interventions Workgroup at Business for South Africa (B4SA).

I think that everybody is equally anxious and agitated that we don't have adequate visibility on the road map to make sure that vaccination programme will unfold as quickly as possible.

Martin Kingston, Leader - Economic Interventions Workgroup at Business for South Africa

He says the Solidarity Fund has a crucial role to play in this process.

Whitfield discusses the fund's role with deputy chairperson, Dr Adrian Enthoven.

The Solidarity Fund made the down payment on the Covax facility... which is one of the pillars of the national vaccine programme. Since then we have also made a donation to support the Johnson & Johnson clinical trials that are taking place in SA to vaccinate 500,000 healthcare workers.

Adrian Enthoven, Deputy chairperson - Solidarity Fund

We are also looking to support building national capacity in the National Department of Health in the provinces and districts to implement and execute what will be the largest vaccination programme in our history.

Adrian Enthoven, Deputy chairperson - Solidarity Fund

He echoes Kingston's point that it will take all sectors of society working together to pull off a vaccination programme of that scale.

What we know is that the vast majority of these vaccines are going to be available in the second half of the year.... The vulnerable members of society... are likely to be vaccinated in the second half of this year.

Adrian Enthoven, Deputy chairperson - Solidarity Fund

So the rest of us have to wait until 2022 and South Africa stays in a state of relative economic paralysis for that period of time.

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show host

This doesn't bode well for the economy says Isaah Mhlanga, Chief Economist at Alexander Forbes.

He discusses the difficulties faced by governments around the world in weighing up public freedoms against the necessity of Covid-fighting measures.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the wisdom at the time was that Covid affects everybody and we all need to do the same things... but inequalities have widened because of Covid.

Isaah Mhlanga, Chief Economist - Alexander Forbes

This means we need a different response mechanism if we're going to carry along everyone that was impacted.

Isaah Mhlanga, Chief Economist - Alexander Forbes

Going forward we have to deal with economic scarring. Different sectors of society, different businesses are going to be scarred and it's going to take a lot longer to actually repair them, which is why we're talking about economic activity returning to the same level it was in 2019, sometime in 2023 or 2024.

Isaah Mhlanga, Chief Economist - Alexander Forbes

What we need is the private sector and government going together in collaboration to make sure that we actually revive economic growth.

Isaah Mhlanga, Chief Economist - Alexander Forbes

Listen to the in-depth discussion in the audio below:




25 March 2021 7:16 PM

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