DOF: $ 800 million in vaxx loans to fund more recalls

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MANILA, Philippines — With a total of $ 800 million (about 41 billion pesos) in concessional loans from multilateral lenders expected to take effect this month, the government is ready to purchase additional COVID booster injections, a the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Friday (January 7).

Citing a recent report by Under Secretary of Finance Bayani Agabin to President Rodrigo Duterte, the DOF said the low-interest booster loans approved in December 2021 were all signed with creditors last month.

The Philippines borrowed $ 300 million from the Washington-based World Bank, plus $ 250 million each from the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) based in Beijing, for the extra jabs that will be provided by the Department of Health (DOH) as part of this year’s national budget.

The 2022 budget of 5.0 trillion pesos provided for 45 billion pesos in unscheduled credits – which would come either from foreign borrowing or from excess income – to be spent on additional doses of the vaccine.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on behalf of the Philippine government, and World Bank Country Director for the Philippines, Ndiame Diop, signed the loan agreement on December 29 and 25, according to documents viewed by the Inquirer. .

Dominguez and AfDB Country Director in the Philippines Kelly Bird signed the ADB loan agreement on December 14, according to separate documents. The loan agreement with the AIIB was not yet publicly available.

Agabin told Duterte that while the DOF still awaited the opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the effective dates of the three new loans, “we expect everything to be effective by the end of January”.

“This will give us funds to purchase our COVID-19 booster injections,” Agabin told the president.

Multilateral lenders paid vaccine suppliers directly for DOH orders, which meant no money went through the government.

Dominguez said earlier that the DOF decided to borrow funds for vaccines from development banks in order to avoid abuse and corruption.

Since these lenders were aware of international vaccine prices, which the global pharmaceutical giants do not want to make public under the nondisclosure agreements they have signed with governments around the world, Dominguez had assured that he there was no premium on Philippine government purchases.

In total, the government borrowed a total of $ 2 billion or more than 100 billion pesos for the purchase of COVID vaccines, including $ 1.2 billion also obtained from the same three multilateral banks in March 2021.

In addition, Agabin told Duterte that the Customs Office (BOC), between March and the end of December 2021, expedited the authorization of a total of 210.4 million doses of the vaccine, which he said were ” more than enough to inoculate 100 percent of the country’s population with adults and children aged 12 to 17.

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