June 16, 2021

Vax funding for purchase is sufficient till 2021

The government’s plan to combat the Covid-19 epidemic is on track, with authorities stating that sufficient money would be available to purchase vaccinations this year.

Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed the government has a PHP5 billion surplus to accomplish population protection this year, citing data from the Department of Finance.

“With logistics expenses of PHP446 per dosage, we’ll require PHP52.3 billion.” Lacson stated at a Senate Committee of the Whole hearing Tuesday on the government’s Covid-19 response and national vaccination campaign, “We have already secured PHP57.3 billion via borrowings, so we have a surplus of PHP5 billion for herd immunity.”

“So money isn’t an issue here.” He said, “Ang kailangan na lang dito maka-procure ng vaccines at may rollout (We just need to concentrate more on obtaining vaccinations and spreading them out).”

The bottom line, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, is “vaccine rollout.”

However, Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that approximately PHP25 billion must be set up for the immunization of youngsters aged 12 to 17.

“There is a second horizon that we must consider. To cover the vaccination of youngsters aged 12 and above, we may require a budget of about PHP25 billion,” he added.

According to Lacson, everything Dominguez said is for 2022, therefore population protection may be achieved this year.

Despite the huge expenditure bill generated because to the health issue, Dominguez claimed the government never ran out of financial resources over the last year and a half of the epidemic.

“We bridged the gap through emergency borrowing, mostly from our development partners, who provided us with extremely favorable rates and conditions. Our debt levels remain sustainable despite the temporary increase in borrowings, and we have maintained our excellent credit rating. This is due to budgetary discipline as well as tax and structural changes that we have undertaken together since 2016,” he said.

According to Dominguez, the country’s strong credit ratings allowed it to get emergency funding at cheaper rates, with tighter spreads and longer payback terms.

He maintained that debts and borrowings are under control.

“Our budget deficit is projected to expand to PHP1.6 trillion this year, up 36% from previous year. This amounts to approximately 9.3% of our GDP (gross domestic product). In 2021, the higher budget deficit would need borrowing of PHP3.1 trillion, about the same amount as last year. Around 75% of these borrowings will come from the domestic market, with the remaining 26% coming from abroad,” he added.

According to him, the country’s overall debt as a percentage of GDP is projected to increase to 58.7% in 2021.

“In 2019, this number was at an all-time low of 39.6 percent. Despite the rise, our careful management has provided us with the fiscal headroom we need to cope with the epidemic, so the expected temporary rise in debt stays within the mandated fiscal viability bounds,” he added.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the Philippines’ vaccine czar, recently announced that the country would get 68 million free shots this year, including 44 million from the COVAX Facility.

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