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Booster jabs an investment

If we don’t have booster shots, we’ll have ups and downs in our economic recovery program, so it’s really mandatory that we provide vaccines.

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DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Monday said his department is willing to subsidize booster shots for the entire population as it is a necessary investment for the Filipinos’ health.

“This is an investment really in people’s health and without that, I don’t think the economy can safely open,” Dominguez stated.

“If we don’t have booster shots, we’ll have ups and downs in our economic recovery program, so it’s really mandatory that we provide vaccines,” he added.

Still, the Finance chief expressed confidence that the succeeding administration will keep in mind that these vaccines will serve as insurance.

“It’s really a necessary input now into the economy. We are also seeing that there is a big possibility that other technologies will be developed,” he said.

He added that the funding for the booster shots will be treated as an additional or new financing program “at the moment.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said that they are looking to buy booster shots this year as financing from both the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) could be secured by November 2021.

“We’re going to buy it this year…we expect the ADB and AIIB (loans) to be signed before the year-end, probably by November. World Bank will come in either December or January,” Joven explained.

“We still have a balance on the original PCERP (Philippines’ Covid-19 Emergency Response Project), so we can, in the meantime, use that amount,” he added.

The Finance executive said that the current objective is to have a “seamless delivery” of vaccines and that they will draw from the new supply agreements starting 1 January 2022.

Dominguez earlier said that the national government (NG) has set aside P45.3 billion or around $900 million for the procurement of Covid-19 booster shots under the unprogrammed appropriations of the National Government’s 2022 national expenditure program.

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