P45-B COVID-19 booster shots budget under ‘unprogrammed funds’ questioned
MANILA, Philippines — The budget for the procurement of COVID-19 booster shots under the unprogrammed funds was questioned Thursday on the first day of deliberations on the proposed 2022 national budget in the House of Representatives.
In her interpellation, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo asked why the proposed P45 billion budget for COVID-19 booster shots was placed under unprogrammed funds.
If a budget allocation is placed under “unprogrammed appropriations”, it means it will only be funded if the government is able to raise enough money for it.
“So in case na hindi natin makamit ang growth na expected at hindi natin makamit ang revenue collection na expected, ang isa sa pinaka-matatamaan ay ang COVID-19 vaccines na pinagtatakahan ko na para bang chicken or egg situation,” Quimbo said.
(In case we do not attain expected growth or collect expected revenue, COVID-19 vaccines will be affected, I am puzzled, it’s like a chicken and egg situation.)
“Kasi ang sinasabi natin na para tayo ay maka-recover economically, kailangan natin ng vaccine. Pero bakit nilagay natin sa unprogrammed ang COVID-19 [booster shots],” she added.
(For us to reover economically, we need vaccines. But why was the budget for COVID-19 booster shots placed under unprogrmammed funds?)
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officer-in-charge Usec. Tina Rose Marie Canda explained that there is separate funding for the COVID-19 vaccines itself, but as for the booster shots, she said that there needs to be an assurance from the Department of Health (DOH) that it is required.
“Now for the P45 billion na nakalagay sa budget na yan is only for the booster shot in the absence of any definitive ruling from the DOH that it is a requirement at this point,” Canda said.
“Hindi namin siya binigyan dahil hindi pa namin sigurado kung talagang kailangan ‘yan kasi wala namang assurance na kailangan ‘yun,” she added.
(It is still uncertain if it is needed, there is no assurance. so far that it is needed.)
Nonetheless, Canda assured that the DOH has “sufficient” funds for vaccines.
A total of P240 billion of the proposed 2022 national budget will go to the government’s COVID-19 response, including P140 million for the Philippine Genome Center which sequences specimen to detect COVID-19 variants.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had said current data does not indicate the need for COVID-19 booster shots since many vulnerable people worldwide have yet to be fully vaccinated.
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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.
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