Quimbo: 2021 COVID budget ‘way too small’

Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said that the health sector’s 2021 national budget for response is way too small compared to the P80-billion health response under the Bayanihan 1 and 2.

Quimbo, an economist, said the government should consider the budget for purchasing vaccines in 2021.

Under the Department of Health’s (DOH) proposed budget, P2.5 billion was earmarked for vaccines. However, Quimbo said this would only cover only 3.9 million Filipinos.

Without the DPWH budget, Quimbo said this would leave the country with P248 billion for pandemic response in 2021. Including the P165 billion allowed spending under Bayanihan 2, Quimbo said the total of P413 billion is still too small relative to the P3.4 trillion in economic damage.

Further, the Marikina solon said the Philippines must “aspire for resilience” and be more proactive to recover from this pandemic, which bared gaps in the health sector.

“We lack beds. Our health-care workers are not cared for. Some of them are dying before even getting their benefits,” she said.

The proposed amount of P2.5 billion for vaccines, she noted, would cover only 3.9 million Filipinos.

Quimbo: 2021 COVID budget ‘way too small’

Excluding the DPWH budget, Quimbo said this would leave the country with P248 billion for pandemic response in 2021. Including the P165 billion authorized spending under Bayanihan 2, she said the sum of P413 billion would still be way too small relative to the P3.4 trillion in economic damage.

Under Quimbo’s version, P400 billion would be allocated to boost pandemic and disaster response and build economic resilience.

She proposed allotting P100 billion for workers’ subsidies, including payment for their testing, sick leaves, and overtime. Another P100 billion would be earmarked to build the business capacity of those affected by the crisis.

The other proposed allocations are P25-billion additional funding for COVID-19 vaccines; P70 billion in subsidiary for the hardest-hit families; P30 billion in for displaced employees; P50 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas; and P5 billion in internet allowance for teachers and students.

“We must be vaccine-ready, and the government must figure out requirements and provide free vaccine for poor families,” she said.