Gordhan allays fears on NHI cost

2011-10-26 18:00
Cape Town - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday sought to allay fears that the cost of implementing the National Health Insurance would overburden the state.

"A number of opposition parties have been raising the NHI question. I don't understand why," he told Parliament's standing committee on finance after Democratic Alliance MP Dion George asked for more detail on the NHI.

"There is no immediate risk of a fiscally unsustainable process emerging," the minister added.

Gordhan was briefing MPs on his medium-term budget policy statement unveiled on Tuesday.

It provided no new money for the NHI but in the adjusted estimates R13m was moved from other programmes to raise the funding for NHI planning to just under R21m.

The first phase of the NHI will be implemented from April next year, in the form of 10 pilot projects in 10 different districts.

Gordhan stressed that full implementation would be spread over 14 years and that the first five years would focus on "reconstructing and enabling the public health sector to completely change the quality of healthcare that it offers".

He said the government was planning further ahead and would give more detail once it was more clear what model of public health insurance it would finally adopt.

"There is work that is happening at the moment and as soon as we are able to have some certainty as to what the options are we will certainly make that available.

"So there is no secret process."

He said whatever model the state settled on, it would act in a financially responsible manner.

"We are absolutely committed to working within a sustainable framework, making sure that the guidelines around inter-generational debt management are implemented and making sure that sustainability lies at the heart of whatever we do."

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