Now with sufficient funds mostly coming from loans extended by development banks, the Philippines can buy enough COVID-19 vaccines en route to further reopening the economy toward recovery, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Tuesday.
“The prompt and substantial financing extended by our multilateral partners is crucial to the accomplishment of the Duterte administration’s target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos—or 100 percent of our adult population—hopefully within this year, so that we can safely open wide our economy and return it to its prepandemic path of high and inclusive growth,” Dominguez said in a statement.
Last week, the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $400-million loan for its host-country’s vaccine purchases while the Washington-based World Bank green-lit a bigger $500 million mainly for the same purpose.
The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will lend the Philippines $300 million for the vaccine procurement it was cofinancing with the ADB, bringing the total amount of loans to $1.2 billion or over P58 billion.
On top of these foreign loans, the Department of Health (DOH) had been allocated P2.5 billion for the vaccination program under the 2021 national budget plus P10 billion already released by the Department of Budget and Management under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 Law.
The Philippines’ total budget for vaccination this year is P82.5 billion, of which P70 billion would come from external borrowings or excess revenues.
But Dominguez said even if the government has secured sufficient funds for its vaccine procurement, the pace of the rollout would depend on how fast suppliers could deliver the ordered doses for the country.
Rich countries had hoarded vaccine supplies, leaving poorer countries scrambling to secure enough doses.
Dominguez nonetheless thanked the ADB, the World Bank and the AIIB for “stepping up their support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response measures, particularly our ongoing efforts to secure these life-saving doses for our people and fast-track our vaccination rollout.”
In a separate statement, the Department of Finance said the memorandum of understanding signed between the Philippine government and the UK Prosperity Fund last Monday would boost post-pandemic economic recovery.
Dominguez signed the memorandum for the Philippines’ participation in the Asean economic reform as well as the Asean low-carbon energy programs being funded by the UK government.
A total of 34 million British pounds (about P2.3 billion) will be divided across six Asean member-countries for their capital market development and “green” energy initiatives to be implemented until March 2022.
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