With the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination plan fast approaching, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado raised the need to increase the fifteen percent (15%) limitation on advance payments on the contract amount for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. This will ensure the timely and efficient implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. The existing authority which only allows advance payment of up to 15% is provided under Memorandum Order No. 172, s. 2005. This limitation is only applicable in exceptional cases such as the procurement of goods during a state of calamity.
He added that the government is presently experiencing difficulties in negotiating with various pharmaceutical companies due to the limitations imposed under existing laws. “...Currently, pwede ka lang magbayad o mag advance payment hanggang 15%... Ang gusto ng mga pharmaceutical industries, bayaran mo na... I-aadvance mo na ang payment bago ma-ideliver… In other words, talagang tatalunin tayo ng mga mayayamang bansa,” Avisado said.
Secretary Avisado likewise called for greater patience and understanding from the public regarding the vaccine procurement process. He explained that the government cannot divulge specific details on its negotiations with pharmaceutical companies—such as prices and the manners of delivery—as both parties are bound by a confidentiality agreement. However, he assured that all of the transactions made by the government remain legitimate and honest. The government is also committed to ensure the safe and timely procurement, transportation, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines despite all of the limitations and challenges.
“Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon naman ang ating pamahalaan na makalap muna at makakuha ng vaccine. Kasi hindi pa man nangyayari yan, ay katakot-takot na batikos ang naririnig natin, meron po mga pamamaraan dyan, kung saan makikita’t makikita natin kung meron talagang kalokohan,” Avisado said.
The DBM chief also reassured the public that the budget for the said vaccines has already been allocated and is now ready for release. He likewise welcomed and acknowledged the efforts of various local government units across the country for complementing and cooperating with the national government in its efforts to secure the much-needed vaccines.
“Meron tayong pondo dyan…. P82.5B ang inilaan ng ating pamahalaan. Wag po tayong mag worry. Nakikipagtulungan ang mga local government units natin at sila din ay handa na bumili sa abot ng kanilang makakaya. We appreciate that very much po,” he stressed.