Funds released for Covid response reach P660 billion

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The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said that public funds given to government agencies for their respective coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic responses were P660.51 billion as of last month.

 

“Of this amount, a total of P542.64 billion was already obligated or 82.2 percent and about P487.19 billion or 89.8 percent was disbursed by the agencies,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said during mid-year economic forum held by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines on Tuesday.

 

Under Republic Act (RA) 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” (Bayanihan 1),  a total of P387.17 billion was disbursed

 

Bayanihan 1 covered assistance to disadvantaged or displaced workers during the pandemic; grants to cities, municipalities and provinces; and purchase of coronavirus detection kits, among others.

 

The law expired on June 25 last year.

 

Meanwhile, P200.12 billion was released under RA 11465, or the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” (Bayanihan 2).

 

Bayanihan 2 includes cash-for-work programs, skills training, social assistance programs, financing for agriculture, tourism, transportation, and education; and new loan programs to help businesses survive.

 

It lapsed last December 19.

 

According to Avisado, the DBM also distributed P73.21 billion outside of Bayanihan rules.

 

“The bulk of the funds released outside of the Bayanihan laws can be attributed to the Covid-19 vaccination program and its related expenses,” he added during a Senate hearing also held on Tuesday.

 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd also said before the Senate that the government had the funding to fully ramp up its vaccination program through the end of the year.

 

“Our total budget for the procurement of vaccines amounts to 88.6 billion pesos. This should be enough to procure about 148 million doses and inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos or 100 percent of our adult population.”

 

The government is guaranteed at least 149.83 million doses of vaccines, Dominguez said, thanks to firm term sheets and supply agreements backed by foreign loans, regular budget, and donations from other countries, as well as the Covax facility.

 

So far, the Philippines has received more than 12.7 million of them.

 

BY MEYNARD DELA CERNA

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