The government has enough money to fund an extensive vaccination drive in the country that will cover both the entire adult and young populations, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Monday.
During his presentation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Dominguez said Congress has authorized the executive branch to spend P85 billion for vaccine purchases.
He enumerated the fund sources: the Department of Health budget, P2.5 billion; Bayanihan 2, P10 billion; and official development assistance (ODA) financing.
ODA financing includes borrowings from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The country has borrowed a total of P58.5 billion – P23.9 from World Bank; P20.3 billion from Asian Development Bank; and P14.3 billion from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
“Other financing ho we are sourcing is up to 11 and a half billion and contingency funds probably another two and a half. But the total so far is we have P85 billion,” Dominguez said.
With P85 billion, the government can buy 140 million vaccine doses to inoculate 70 million Filipinos or the entire adult population.
In the case of the younger population or those aged 12 to 17 years old, he said they estimate it to cost another P20 billion, noting the government has enough reserves to cover that amount of money.
“So we have enough,” Dominguez said. “Tamang-tama, sapat po ‘yong pera natin para sa vaccination. So we don’t have to worry.”
“The money is there and we will certainly be able to vaccinate the entire adult population plus the teenagers who are I think around 15 million, right? Around 15 million Filipinos. So total 85 million Filipinos.”
The finance chief also responded to questions whether the government is borrowing too much money as a response to the pandemic.
He said that although the country’s debt has increased, it is just temporary, and the government’s finances will normalize in the next few years once the economy reopens.
Dominguez praised the Duterte administration’s tax reform initiatives that have kept the country’s credit rating “very, very strong,” with rating agencies retaining the existing status.
More than 100 countries around the world have been downgraded, according to the finance chief.
“Ang ibig sabihin niyan, pag na-downgrade kayo, mahihirapan kayong humiram o kung hihiram man kayo, mas mataas ang interest. So ang interes natin actually is quite low because our credit rating is very good,” Dominguez said.
“So we think that the debt level of our country is high but it is sustainable and we can manage to handle this debt in the coming years.” PND