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As accounting firms and economists start to come out with budget previews, there is much debate about whether the government will introduce a tax to fund SA's Covid vaccine programme, and whether it should. This is an absurd debate, fuelled by a dysfunctional government. It is absurd that there should even be a question about whether the government can afford a vaccine programme; absurd, too, that it would consider a new tax to pay for it.

That is, first, because the macroeconomic case for it to spend more, and if necessary borrow more, to fund the vaccine is absolutely compelling. There is no world in which a vaccine programme doesn't pay for itself many times over, in terms of both growth and tax revenue. Without vaccines, SA faces further waves of infection and repeated economic shutdowns, as well as a fear factor that weighs on consumers' and investors' willingness to spend. With an effective vaccine programme the economy can reopen and confidence be regained...

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