Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Thursday defended the slow spending in National Health Insurance (NHI) programmes overseen by his department, saying he had anticipated that the money would be needed for other purposes. Treasury documents show that only 10.4% of the NHI indirect grant allocated for the 2018/2019 fiscal year had been spent by the middle of the year, or September 30. The Treasury redirected R546m from the grant to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to fill 2,200 critical health vacancies and purchase beds and linen, which he made when he announced his economic stimulus package in September. “I did not push that that money was spent because I was warned as early as May we might not get any new money, that we might have to reprioritise [the budget] … and the NHI money was mentioned. I realised if we rush using this money for new things, it will be a crisis for the country,” said the minister.

“I really don’t regard it as underspending. It was a strateg...

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