Chair, the National Health Insurance is at the heart of the national government's offer on health for the poor but it seems to be that there is no money for it. Yesterday the Minister of Finance, Mr Nene, announced that National Treasury will release a discussion paper. I quote:
A discussion paper on financing options will be released shortly by the National Treasury, to accompany the NHI White Paper.
However, in last year's Budget Speech we also heard that the White Paper on the NHI and the Financing Paper would be tabled shortly. I wonder what they mean by "shortly". Bear in mind that the NHI Green Paper was released almost four years ago. We want to give government the benefit of the doubt, but the delay in the finalisation of these documents and a healthy dose of scepticism based on this government's record suggests that the NHI cannot be financed because it depends on decent growth, which we simply do not have.
It is therefore time to go back to the drawing board. The NHI is a dream turned illusion wrapped in a fantasy. By all means, spend NHI pilot project money on building clinics and hospitals and other necessary infrastructure but let us start again by putting together a viable offer to poor South Africans so that they can in fact access quality health care. Thank you. [Applause.]