Solon calls for massive fundraising to augment COVID-19 vaccine budget

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2020 10:30 AM

Solon calls for massive fundraising to augment COVID-19 vaccine budget 1
A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken Oct. 30, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/File

MANILA - A lawmaker on Thursday called for massive fundraising to augment the country's budget for COVID-19 vaccine, which has been touted as solution to the pandemic.

Speaking to ANC's "Matters of Fact," Barangay Health Worker (BHW) party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co said it would be difficult for the government to provide free inoculation for all Filipinos.

"It's really impossible for the national government to carry the burden alone. Maybe, a whole-of-society effort, a fundraising effort would suffice to probably give 60 percent of Filipinos vaccination with zero out of pocket expenditures," she said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) had said the government would need at least P73.2 billion to procure vaccines against the novel coronavirus for 60 million Filipinos, in hopes of achieving herd immunity. But as most vaccines require 2 doses, the target population can be slashed by half.

A bulk of the funding will come from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank through low-cost, long-term loans, the agency said.

Meanwhile, some P20 billion will come from domestic sources like the Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, as well as other government-owned and controlled corporations and bilateral negotiations.

To supplement the national government's efforts in fighting against COVID-19, which has infected nearly 423,000 Filipinos, Co proposed that the local government units (LGUs) set aside at least 20 percent of their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

The private sector, churches and religious groups can also pitch in and help, she said. Seeking funding from other countries may be difficult as they are also tackling the same problem, she added.

There's also a slim chance that proposals of another stimulus package or a third version of the Bayanihan law, which allots some P20 billion for the vaccine procurement, would be passed this year, Co said.

"It's the end of the year already. It would be hard especially now the [proposed 2021 national] budget is in the Senate. If Congress would push for it, gladly that's enough. [But] can Congress really make it, we have to see about that," she said.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez had said the country may start the vaccine roll out by May next year.

"Our vaccine roadmap spans 3 to 5 years," he said, adding inoculation would largely depend on the financing, approval and supply of the vaccines.

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