Effects of COVID-19 on economy will be felt for years to come: President Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the effects of COVID-19 on the economy will be felt for years to come. Delivering his reply to the budget vote of his office in Parliament, the President outlined some of the challenges the pandemic has had on the country’s economy.

He was accused by some opposition parties on Wednesday of failing to fulfill his promises of creating jobs and halving violent crimes.

Ramaphosa says the pandemic has set economic progress back by a number of years.

“It has set our own economic progress back by a number of years. It has South Africans poorer. It has made hunger more widespread and it has directly affected the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people in our country.”

Economic activity returning despite challenges

President Ramaphosa has told the National Assembly that economic activity is returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels despite challenges. He says the rand is performing better.

The currency is at its best levels since 2019 and is out-performing other South African trading partners.

The President says although the country is not out of the woods yet, there are signs of economic recovery.

“Our country has suffered great devastation and as COVID-19 continues to spread within our communities and as it continues to take people’s lives, we cannot yet say that we have extinguished the flames of the pandemic, but we will. What we can say is that we are now seeing some of the green shoots of recovery, we are now seeing signs that the focus of this administration has place on economic reform.”

Vaccine administration

Ramaphosa says more than 70 000 doses of the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are being administered on a daily basis in the country.

He says the figure is expected to increase soon to at least 100 000 vaccines a day.

Ramaphosa was responding to criticism by some opposition parties that his administration is failing to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of the population to achieve herd immunity.

He says government has secured vaccines for the entire adult population.

“We have secured sufficient vaccine doses for the entire adult population of our country and roll out is gathering pace and is proceeding. We are now above 70 000 vaccinations a day and will soon hit 100 000 vaccinations a day. That is going to keep adding more pace and momentum. We expect the J&J [vaccine] to be released soon.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa replies to debate on Presidency Budget Vote: