Duterte OKs release of P2.5-B fund for vaccine purchase

Published June 5, 2021, 2:31 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is tapping the 2021 contingent fund to augment resources to boost the country’s supply of coronavirus vaccines.

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a vial of a Sinovac coronavirus vaccine during the ceremonial turnover of the vaccines Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on February 28, 2021. (Malacañang)

President Duterte has authorized the release of P2.5 billion from this year’s allocation for the delivery of 4 million coronavirus vaccine shots this month.

The use of the contingent fund was bared by Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado after the government encountered shortage of resources for the vaccine purchase. The government earlier set aside P82.5 billion for vaccine procurement and logistical requirements but might need an additional P25 billion for the purchase of more shots, he said.

“Bakit kailangan kumuha nga sa contingency fund ay dahil nga po talagang kulang ang pondo natin. Ang totohanan niyan, kaka-approve lang ng ating Pangulo ng (We need to get from the contingency fund because our funds are insufficient. The truth is the President has approved) P2.5 billion, equivalent to US $56 million, chargeable against the 2021 contingency fund,” Avisado said over government television Saturday, June 5.

“Ang amount po na ito (This amount) will cover the payment of around four million doses of vaccines and its corresponding logistical and administrative cost which is expected to be—na ma-deliver ngayong buwan (to be delivered this month),” he added.

The budget chief said a special allotment release order and notice of cash allocation has been released to the Department of Health for the vaccine purchase.

“Madaling sabi, hindi lang po talaga 82.5 billion ang gagastusin natin ngayong taon para sa pagbili ng vaccines kaya nga ba pati contingency fund ay kailangan nang gamitin (In other words, we won’t just spend P82.5 billion this year for the vaccine purchase that’s why even the contingency fund will be used),” he said.

Under the 2021 national budget, the government has set aside P13 billion in contingent fund to cover the funding requirements of new or urgent activities or projects of national government agencies, government firms, and local government units that need to be implemented or paid during the year. The release of the funds is subject to the approval by the President.

Avisado said the Department of Finance (DOF) has mentioned the government may need an additional P25 billion with the anticipated expansion of the vaccination drive to include persons below 18 years old. The final budget requirement will still be determined by the finance authorities.

The country has already secured more than 8 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, allowing the government to fully inoculate over 1 million persons so far.

The government intends to spend P82 billion for the purchase of 148 million needed to vaccinate 58 to 70 million Filipinos before the end of the year to attain herd immunity.

Of the vaccine budget, P2.5 billion will be sourced from the budget of the Department of Health under the 2021 national budget while P10 billion will come from the funds allocated for the COVID-19 vaccination program under Bayanihan 2 law. The remaining P70 billion will be sourced from loans provided by multilateral lenders, the country’s bilateral partners and the domestic market.