Another $300-M loan sought for COVID-19 response
The Philippines is seeking from the World Bank (WB) an additional $300 million for its COVID-19 emergency response as the government prepares to buy booster shots for next year.
Documents showed that this second additional financing sought by the Philippines was expected to be approved by the World Bank’s Washington-based board in fiscal year 2022.
To recall, the World Bank extended to the Philippines this year an additional $500 million to buy vaccines under the emergency response project that started last year.
In 2020, the World Bank’s initial financing for the COVID-19 emergency response project was $100 million. The forthcoming loan will inject a total of $900 million in financing to this project.
Earlier documents had shown that the World Bank and the Philippines will restructure the current $600 million in project financing to allow the government to tap more vaccine suppliers and fast-track mass vaccination.
Last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines was eyeing to borrow about $900 million from multilateral lenders for boosters.
“Exploratory discussions with the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the World Bank have been initiated to help determine possible funding sources for additional vaccine requirements in 2022. We expect to execute loan agreements toward the end of the year,” Dominguez said.
These upcoming loans will finance the P45.3 billion in the proposed P5.02-trillion 2022 national budget which had been set aside for booster shots. This amount was included under unprogrammed appropriations, while awaiting if the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will require boosters.
Unlike regular budget items, unprogrammed appropriations can only be funded by excess revenues or additional foreign borrowings.
—Ben O. de Vera INQ
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