Loans for Covid-19 vax program best strategy for PH: DOF chief

BUSINESS
April 19, 2021

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TAKING out loans to help finance the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination program is the best approach for the government, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Thursday. 
    
“We chose this financing strategy because we want to assure the public of two things: First, that the vaccines we are buying are internationally accepted, and have passed the stringent criteria for safety and effectiveness. Second, that the vaccine procurement is totally transparent,” he said during a virtual briefing organized by Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez in Washington DC. 
    
The government has secured total loans amounting to about P58.4 billion ($1.2 billion) from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)  to help finance the vaccination deployment plan.
    
It has secured over 140 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, 15 percent of which is scheduled for delivery in the first half of this year while the bulk, or 85 percent, is set for delivery in the second half. 
    
Despite the supply issues, it has started vaccination drives around the country using the supplies donated by China. 
    
The government plans to inoculate at least 70 million adult Filipinos this year.
    
“The Philippines strongly supports the statement of Mr. David Malpass, former US Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and now the World Bank President, who underscored the importance of releasing Covid-19 vaccines from countries with excess supplies as soon as possible,” he added. 
    
During the same briefing, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) acting Administrator Gloria Steele announced that the agency is providing “USD3.5 million to further support the Philippines in delivering vaccines received from COVAX”, referring to global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. 
    
“Our assistance will strengthen vaccine supply chains and support local governments to plan, track, and deliver vaccines. And it will help the Philippines’ Department of Health and local government distribute essential public health messaging around the vaccines,” she said.

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