Covid-19 vaccine booster shots funding still under negotiation

Covid-19 vaccine booster shots funding still under negotiation

MANILA – Specifics of PHP45.3 billion (USD900 million) worth of loans the government plans to request from multilateral lenders to finance coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) booster shots for 2022 are still being determined.

“Still under negotiation,” Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told journalists in a Viber message on Wednesday.

Dominguez on Tuesday confirmed what National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said during the Talk to the People address of the President on Monday night that the government is now in talks with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for booster shots funding.

Dominguez said a PHP45.3 billion allocation has been included in the national government’s proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) under unprogrammed appropriations.

He said the NTF, Department of Health, and DOF have initially identified multilateral and bilateral financial institutions as “possible sources of funding for this allocation.”

“In fact, exploratory discussions with the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the World Bank have been initiated to help determine possible funding sources for additional vaccine requirements in 2022. We expect to execute loan agreements towards the end of the year,” he added.

Earlier, Dominguez said the government secured around PHP57.3 billion of concessional loans from ADB, WB, and AIIB for Covid-19 vaccines procurement.

This forms part of the PHP88.6-billion budget for vaccine acquisition of the government to date, which is accounted for by the PHP2.5 billion from DOH budget under the 2021 national budget, PHP10 billion from Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, around PHP3.26 billion from the Covid-19 vaccination program, PHP2.8 billion from the Office of the President’s Contingency Fund, and around PHP12.7 billion from other financing sources.

The government plans to inoculate around 80 to 90 percent of the country’s population by the first quarter of 2022, ahead of the national polls in May 2022, which is considered a super spreader event. (PNA)

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