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Government needs additional P25 billion to buy vaccines
“The Department of Finance has said that there is a need for an additional (budget) of P25 billion, if I’m not mistaken, because when we computed it, there seems to be a deficit,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said at a briefing.
The STAR/ File

Government needs additional P25 billion to buy vaccines

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 6, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government needs P25 billion more to fund its procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, on top of the P82-billion estimate announced earlier by the Department of Finance (DOF), Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said yesterday.

“The Department of Finance has said that there is a need for an additional (budget) of P25 billion, if I’m not mistaken, because when we computed it, there seems to be a deficit,” Avisado said at a briefing.

The amount also does not cover the funds needed to augment the government’s Special Amelioration Program, the funding for which appears to be not enough. “But the government is preparing for this,” he said.

Avisado added the government has already tapped its contingency fund for the procurement of four million doses of vaccines.

“We have to really determine the entirety of the amount that is still needed more than what we have already approved in the current national budget, in tandem with the Department of Finance because they will be the ones to source these funds,” Avisado said.

The government has earmarked P82.5 billion this year for the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Of the amount, P70 billion was used for actual procurement of vaccines, while P12.5 billion was allocated for ancillary and logistical requirements.

“But we still need more vaccines, and we are competing with other countries (for the supply),” he said.

“The real score is, the President just approved the P2.5 billion, equivalent to $56 million, chargeable against the 2021 contingency fund. The amount will cover the payment of around four million doses of vaccines and corresponding logistical and administrative cost which is expected to be delivered this month,” he said.

The DBM has released a special allotment release order and notice of cash allocation to the Department of Health for this purpose.

He noted that there is a contingency fund totaling P13 billion for this year that can be tapped upon approval of the President. “This will cover the funding requirements of new and urgent measures and activities or projects of national government, so there’s need to implement within the year and pay this year,” he said

“And these are funds released directly to agencies except those for LGUs (local government units) and GOCCs (government-owned and controlled corporations) which have to be coursed through the Bureau of Treasury (BTr),” he explained.

“In other words, we are using not just P82.5 billion to procure vaccines…which is why we already tapped our contingency fund,” he said.

Avisado also said the DBM welcomes the move of Congress to pass Bayanihan 3. However, he said the government would still have to set targets to be able to fund the proposed relief bill, passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

The measure, he added, still lacks a certificate of availability of funds from the BTr, which is a constitutional requirement.

Avisado said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called for a meeting to determine ways to fund the Bayanihan 3 measure.

COVID-19 VACCINE DOH
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