Lawmaker thinks gov’t can source over P70 B funds for COVID-19 vaccine

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A lawmaker conveyed his confidence on the capacity of the Philippine government to procure over P72 billion worth of COVID-19 vaccines next year, emphasizing that several domestic and foreign borrowings have been processed during the months of pandemic.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said funds for procurement of the vaccines can be “readily made available” by the Department of Budget and Management, citing enough money in the national treasury after months-worth of both domestic and foreign borrowings.

“I’m confident that DBM will be able to come up with the ₱72 billion if needed,” Lacson said.

“Before the pandemic struck, our national debt stood at ₱7.8 trillion. We’re now at ₱10.4 trillion. By simple computation, we have already borrowed almost ₱3 trillion… Easily, ₱72 billion can be taken cared of by the borrowings,” he explained.

The bicameral conference committee composed of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress approved ₱72.5 billion for the COVID-19 vaccine budget. Of this value, ₱70 billion would come from unprogrammed allocations, which will only be available if the country exceeds its revenue collections or through approved loans.