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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved allocation of US$ 130 million (Rs20 billion) for the procurement of 10 million doses of corona vaccine for the month of June 2021 only. However, sources said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has sought an allocation of US$500 million Technical Supplementary Grant for procurement of vaccine from June to December 2021 for 71.66 million people.

The meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin met on Monday with a one-point agenda to consider NDMA’s proposal for allocation of fund for procurement of vaccine for an effective national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Finance Ministry, the funds would be utilised for the procurement of 10 million doses of the Covid vaccine during June 2021, while the need for additional funds would be reviewed during the next fiscal year and additional funds would be provided accordingly.

The administration of vaccine would be the responsibility of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, and the Provincial Health Departments, the ministry added.

Sources said that in the summary the ECC meeting was told the estimates based on current government secured prices suggest that vaccine for the population of 70 million people would cost approximately US$ 1.5 billion.

The ECC was further told that the prices may fluctuate with the passage of time depending on a number of factors, for instance, it is expected that with an increase in production and after fulfilling demands of producing countries, the prices may reduce.

Initially, the NDMA proposed Technical Supplementary Grant of US$ 500 million for projected planning of vaccine procurement from June to December 2021 for 71.66 million people and the proposed plan was also endorsed by the Ministry of National Health Services with the stipulation that the NDMA would request additional resources for procurement of vaccine, when the National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF) funds are near depletion.

The ministry also revised the vaccine requirement target on the basis of demand set by the NCOC.

However, against the demand of US$ 500 million by the NDMA, the Finance Division supported allocation of funds of Rs20 billion during current financial year for procurement of vaccine of 10 million doses only for the month of June 2021.

The Finance Division said it would consider subsequent need of additional funds in the ensuing year 2021/22, while at the same time, advised the NDMA to explore possibility of vaccine procurement through external financial resources available with the Economic Affairs Division.

The option to reimburse the expenditures related to procurement of vaccine through development partners may also be explored.

The NDMA requested the ECC was that the proposed TSG of US$ 130 million (equal to approximately Rs20 billion @ US dollar against 154 Pak Rupees), as supported by the Finance Division may be approved and the funds should be placed at the disposal of the NDMA in its National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF) to ensure timely procurement of vaccine for effective national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Privatisation Muhamma-dmian Soomro, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Swati, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, the finance secretary, and by other senior officers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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