President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that Finance Sec Carlos Dominguez will be able to answer senators’ questions at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Tuesday regarding government funds used for the purchase of the vaccine.
“I’m sure that the questions will be the same as our answers were or are noon, pareho pa din. Pareho ’yan, walang nagbago,” Duterte promised at the weekly public briefing on Monday.
“But still, in the spirit of transparency, we can do it even he — ah, every day talking to them hanggang maintindihan nila ang wherewithal nito kung bakit ganito ang bakuna,” Duterte added.
The senators want to know the status of the P82.5 billion allocated for the purchase of vaccines against COVID-19 even though the Department of Budget and Management is still asking for another P25 billion to be added to it.
But Dominguez said that if the funds from the Bayanihan laws, General Appropriations Act, loans to international lending institutions, and other types of financing are combined, the government will have enough funds to buy the vaccine.
“But the total so far is we have P85 billion. Now, the money is there so we have enough to buy . . . With P85 billion, we can buy 140 million doses of vaccines, OK? Now 140 million doses of vaccines can vaccinate 70 million Filipinos. Now 70 million Filipinos is the entire adult population. So we have enough money to vaccinate the entire adult population,” said the Secretary.
Duterte: Gov’t ready to answer questions on vaccine purchase fund
It is said that there will also be a source of funding for the vaccination of children after it was approved that Pfizer will be available for 12 to 15-year-olds.
“We estimate that will cost another 20 billion pesos but we have enough reserves to cover that amount of money. So we have enough. Tamang-tama, sapat po iyong pera natin para sa vaccination,” added Dominguez.
He also said that although the country’s debt has increased due to the pandemic, he said it will not be permanent, and will also be repaid immediately once the economy eases and the government can generate more revenue.
“(We are) going to become normal again, probably in 2022, probably in 2023. We are going to become normal like 2019 where our deficit is much lower,” said Dominguez.
“So we think that the debt level of our country is high but it is sustainable and we can manage to handle this debt in the coming years.”