PH seeks $700-M ADB, AIIB loans for vaccine rollout
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will lend the Philippines a combined $700 million (about P33.9 billion) by March to buy vaccines and inoculate Filipinos against the COVID-19 disease.
Documents of the Beijing-based AIIB showed that it plans to shell out $300 million on top of the Manila-based ADB’s commitment of $400 million for their co-financing of the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 or “HEAL 2” Project.
With a total project cost of $764.17 million (about P37 billion), the government will shoulder the balance that the forthcoming ADB and AIIB loans will not cover.
The AIIB said its share coming from the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility it established last year to fight the pandemic would help the Philippine government undertake “rapid procurement of eligible COVID-19 vaccines.”
Since the project will be co-financed with the ADB, the vaccines must be eligible under the regional program called Asia-Pacific Vaccine Access Facility.
Last year, the AIIB and the ADB also jointly financed the Philippines’ pandemic response under the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program, chipping in $750 million and $1.5 billion, respectively.
Together with the incoming World Bank loan amounting to $500 million, the three multilateral lenders will inject a total of $1.2 billion into the Philippines COVID-19 vaccination program.
Since the P70 billion in unprogrammed appropriations in the 2021 national budget that had been set aside for mass vaccination would mostly come from foreign borrowings, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told President Duterte last month that the Philippines would tap up to $1.3 billion in low-interest loans from the ADB, the AIIB as well as the Washington-based World Bank.
Last year, the Philippines secured $15.44 billion in foreign loans and grants to beef up its war chest against the health and socioeconomic crises inflicted by COVID-19.
While borrowings surged, the Philippines will settle a record P1.79 trillion in debt this year, a sizable portion of the P4.51-trillion budget.
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