DOF clarifies secured loans for vaccine procurement


MANILA, Mar. 21 — The Department of Finance (DOF) has clarified that the government budget for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines remains at P82.5 billion, of which P70 billion will come from unprogrammed funds that will be unlocked by collecting additional revenues or by securing additional financing from the Philippines’ multilateral partner-institutions.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that to date, the government has secured the following loans totalling US$1.2 billion (around P58.5 billion) for COVID-19 vaccine procurement:

1. US$500 million for the Philippines’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Project—Additional Financing (PCERP-AF) from the World Bank (WB)

2. US$400 million Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL 2) under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Facility of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

3. US$300 million HEAL 2 loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

“These loans are being processed for signing this March 2021 with an indicative aggregate loan amount of US$1.2 billion,” Dominguez said in a letter to Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and the other senators.

Dominguez made the clarification following reports that have circulated saying that the government’s accumulated loans, along with the Department of Health (DOH) appropriations under the Bayanihan 2 law (Republic Act (RA) No. 11494) to procure COVID-19 vaccines, allegedly now amount to “P126.75 billion.”

The report listed several supposed “WB/ADB/AIIB approved loans for Ph Covid vaccines” that the government secured between April 2020 and March 2021.

Dominguez pointed out that “some of the amounts in the report are not for COVID-19 vaccine procurement.”

He said US$1.7 billion of the total of US$2.4 billion loans listed in the circulated report were intended for the purchase of COVID-19 medical and laboratory equipment, reagents, personal protective equipment (PPEs), ambulances and other essentials for medical frontliners, while the other loan  packages mentioned were for general budgetary support to cover state spending on pandemic response measures.

Only US$700 million of the loans listed in the report were for vaccine procurement.

These are the US$400 million loan from the ADB and the US$300 million loan from the AIIB for HEAL 2, which the two multilateral institutions are co-financing, Dominguez said. (DOF)