Covid response financing hits $14B

Financing for the government’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has risen to $14.29 billion (over P696 billion) as of mid-March, the Department of Finance (DoF) reported on Thursday.

According to the department, it raised $13.35 billion from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Finance Development Program, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Export-Import Bank of Korea, and US dollar-denominated global bonds. Of the amount, $12.31 billion has been disbursed.

The government also secured $26.74 million in grant assistance, composed of the ADB’s $3-million Covid-19 Emergency Response Project and $5-million Rapid Emergency Supplies Provision, and $18.74 million from Japan.

The DoF also got $915 million from the World Bank’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Project, support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling Project, Philippines Beneficiary FIRST Social Protection Project, and additional financing for Kalahi Cidss National Community Driven Development Project; and the ADB’s $125-million Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit Covid-19 Program.

The Department of Budget and Management reported earlier that fund releases for the government’s Covid-19 response reached P568.01 billion.

Budget data showed that of the amount released as of February 24, P217.41 billion went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Other departments that received more than P1 billion were the Departments of Labor and Employment with P28.98 billion; Health, P90.64 billion; Finance (DoF), P146.08 billion; Agriculture, P34.68 billion; Interior and Local Government, P5.79 billion; National Defense, P5.63 billion, Education, P16.40 billion; Trade and Industry, P1.30 billion; Public Works and Highways, P5.54 billion; and Transportation, P10.30 billion; and Commission on Higher Education, P3.30 billion.

Agencies and institutions that received less than P1 billion were the Departments of Foreign Affairs with P825.09 million and of Science and Technology, P437.44 million; Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, P50.50 million; University of the Philippines, P415 million; and Philippine Sports Commission, P180 million.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has reiterated the government’s commitment to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos or 100 percent of the adult population within the year.

“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 pre-pandemic path of high and inclusive growth,” he said.

Even if the government has secured sufficient funds for its vaccine procurement drive, the pace of the rollout would depend on how fast suppliers can deliver the ordered doses to the country, Dominguez added.