MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has some P4.2 billion worth of programmed funds that can be realigned to provide an additional budget for the procurement of more COVID-19 booster shots, Cebu 5th District Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco, who was sponsoring the DOH budget, said on Tuesday.
Currently, under the proposed 2022 national budget, P45 billion is allotted for COVID-19 booster shots, which will be administered to those who have already completed their regular COVID-19 shots.
The P45 billion allotment, however, is placed under unprogrammed appropriations. If a budget allocation is placed under unprogrammed appropriations, it means they will only be funded if the government will be able to raise enough money for them.
For Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, the DOH should also look at programs with historically very low utilization rates.
Quimbo proposed that DOH could take 90 percent of the proposed funding for projects with utilization rates of 50 to 70 percent. If this will be followed, the agency can generate around P21 billion.
“So, in other words, why should we insist on adding to the budget of programs that historically don’t use up their funds?” Quimbo said in Filipino.
Frasco explained that some projects had low utilization rates in 2020 due to restrictions brought by the pandemic.
“So, the reason why they are still allocated is the same amount for next year is in the hope that there will be [fewer] restrictions with respect to COVID,” Frasco said.
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