MANILA— Government cut the Department of Health’s proposed P104 billion budget for COVID-19 vaccines to just P45 billion in 2022, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.
The Department of Budget and Management had put the budget for vaccine booster doses under unprogrammed funds at P45 billion, Duque said.
“We initially proposed about P104 billion but DBM put it under unprogrammed funds, 'yung (the) P45 billion and I am made to understand this will be for booster doses," the health chief said at a House of Representatives hearing.
Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo questioned why the budget was placed under unprogrammed funds, which depends on whether or not government can raise enough money for them to be funded and implemented.
Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said this was because government has yet to approve the use of booster shots.
"Since wala pang decision kung technically magkakaroon tayo ng booster next year, alam ko nilagay nila sa unprogrammed," he said.
(Since there's no decision yet if we will have a booster next year, it was placed under unprogrammed as far as I know.)
"But for this year, 'yung ating first dose and second dose ay mako-cover ng ating foreign assisted projects, ng donation, and some bilateral donations from China, Japan and other bilateral agencies. 'Yun ang totality."
(But for this year, our first and second doses are covered under foreign-assisted projects and donations, such as bilateral donations from China, Japan, and other bilateral agencies. That's the totality.)
Quimbo said that when she made her inquiries, the DBM said it was the DOH who recommended the P45-billion budget in the unprogrammed fund.
The DOH said P8.58 billion of its 2022 budget will go to national immunization to provide vaccines across life stages for priority target groups, inclusive of P650 million for COVID-19 Immunization Devices.
The agency is seeking a total of P242.22 billion budget for 2022, 14 percent higher than its funds this year.
The DOH will return to the chamber on Thursday to face the budget committee.
— Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News