Gov’t to use 2021 budget savings to buy 20M doses of booster shots—Angara

Published November 10, 2021, 2:38 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The government will use the savings from the 2021 national budget to purchase some 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines which would be used as booster shots.

Senator Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee, and sponsor of the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, said this was relayed to him by Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. during plenary deliberations on next year’s proposed budget on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

“During the break, I was informed by Sec. Galvez that they are using the 2021 savings to procure already 20 million doses of booster shots…I think that is their way of getting ahead of the curve so to speak,” Angara said during the Senate’s plenary deliberations.

However, Angara could not provide the exact amount when Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked about the savings.

While the economic cluster were looking for the data, Sen. Panfilo Lacson noted that the government has released P62.6-billion for the procurement of 121 million doses.

The figures, according to Lacson, were released from a previous hearing with the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), as provided by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. He said it showed there was an excess of P25.9-billion.

But Angara noted the figures cited by Lacson do not match with the numbers given to the Senate finance panel.

“They are mentioning P76.8-billion worth of releases; P55.9-billion worth of obligations…I’m a little confused about the figures too,” Angara said.

Drilon then asked the economic cluster to submit the data to the plenary so that the Senate can get an “accurate picture” of the funding for the COVID-19 booster shots.

“We are doing the budget and unles we get an accurate picture, we couldn’t come up with a reasonable budget,” Drilon stressed.