By Rona Bekker, Senior Policy Advisor (NEASA), 05 May 2021.
COIDA, RAF, UIF TERS and now… the Covid Vaccine Injury (no-fault) Compensation Fund. What do these schemes have in common? Apart from absolute dysfunctionality, corruption has been rife in these funds to the extent that the intended beneficiaries have ultimately not benefitted at all and the state funds allocated therefore are depleted, or in fact stolen, at an alarming rate.
On 15 April 2021, the regulations for the Covid-19 Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme were published for public comment, allowing a mere 4 days for comments, spanning over a weekend until 19 April 2021. The fact that the Government is attempting to push through a new scheme, which will be placing an additional burden on taxpayers who will be funding the scheme, should raise concern for various reasons. The risks involved outweigh the urgency of a quickly-slapped-together funding scheme.
The regulations are vague about how exactly this scheme will be funded and administrated. There are no clear indications as to what financial contribution the public or others will have to make, and whether vaccine manufacturers will contribute to the fund or whether they are specifically exempted. This potentially leads to leaving the entire financial burden of maintaining the Fund to the state and consequently the taxpaying public.
In addition to this, the regulations, as published, give the health department the right to decide whether to appoint a private company or government entity to administer the fund – and this is where our biggest concern lies. Most government administrated funds are maladministered to the extent of bankruptcy within months from inception, rotten to the core with corruption and, if ever functional, administered at a snail's pace. Private administrators, who assist with claims, are the only institutions with the knowledge, expertise and skills to navigate complicated and red-taped burdened claim processes.
These factors make it near impossible to constructively comment on the regulations of the Fund, as most of the critical functions and mechanisms of the Fund still have to be developed. Once again, four days for public comment may well be indicative of sinister agendas by the government.
Without knowing who will be responsible for the administration of this Fund, one can only imagine the disastrous outcome if another state-preferred institution, with deep self-enriching pockets, is handed the reigns billions of rands.
Without even discussing the alarm bells when a potentially harmful, contested medical intervention is rolled out hand-in-hand with a compensation fund to cover for its possible negative and adverse side effects, it is simply not acceptable that the regulations of the scheme are being rushed through the process without proper consultation with the public and necessary health and financial experts.