A MINDANAO lawmaker on Thursday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to include funds for the procurement of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine in its proposed budget for 2021.
“Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has already declared that the House of Representatives is prepared to appropriate funds for the vaccine. I am suggesting that the DoH already incorporate in its budget proposal its
estimated funding requirement for the doses the country needs to protect our people from coronavirus,” said Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments.
Cayetano said it is the DoH and not Congress or any other agency that has the expertise to come up with estimates based on its institutional knowledge on the cost of previous vaccines and its access to manufacturers.
“We will have to rely on them especially considering that the COVID-19 vaccine is yet to be found, though several countries and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop it,” he said.
Rodriguez added that by this time of the year, the administration has already put together the proposed national budget for next year and is preparing to submit it to Congress, which is convening for its second regular session on July 27.
He noted that budget and finance officials have announced that the budget ceiling would be P4.3 trillion, about P200 billion more than this year’s P4.1 trillion.
“However, there’s still time for the DoH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make adjustments to accommodate appropriations for COVID-19 vaccines,” he stressed.
He pointed out that the administration has a constitutional deadline of one month from July 27 to submit to Congress its proposed budget for 2021.
“If the DoH needs more time after the budget proposal is submitted, they should tell us. We can wait for their estimates and we can introduce the needed adjustments while the House is considering the spending measure,” said Rodriguez.
Earlier, Cayetano said he preferred that funds be already appropriated in case a vaccine for the coronavirus disease is developed and available in the market.
“What if there is a vaccine and they won’t supply unless you pay at once? So the funds should already be available in the budget,” he said.