Lagman urges DOF to reveal vaccine prices
By Mavic Conde
Albay Congressman Edcel Lagman has demanded a full disclosure of the detailed prices paid by the government for Covid-19 vaccines.
“Accountability and transparency in government transactions, like the purchase of vaccines amounting to billions of pesos, demand a full disclosure,” Lagman said in a news release.
During the Aug. 27 budget briefing by the Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez reiterated the pricing confidentiality when buying the vaccines. According to him, “suppliers insisted on a non-disclosure clause” or else “they will not sell to the government.”
Lagman argued that “The expenditures in the purchase of vaccines cannot be validated and additional funds cannot be appropriated without the most critical data on the specific prices negotiated by the government,” adding: “Secret pricing of vaccines defies the oversight function of the Congress and mocks the congressional power of appropriation.”
In January, the DOF published on its website that the government will allot P1,300 per person from “the P82.5 billion fund required to provide vaccines to around 55 percent of the population.”
According to the DOF news release, these “initial [conservative] computations already include the required doses, syringe, storage, equipment, information campaign, monitoring and other support services.”
Dominguez explained in the news release that “At P1,300 per person, the government would be able to inoculate roughly 57 to 60 million Filipinos out of the 70 million that need to be vaccinated.”
The P70 billion will come from loans, the P10 billion will come from the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), and the P2.5 billion is part of the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the DOF news release stated.
For such a huge amount of public fund, Lagman also asked the Commission on Audit (COA) on how much the concerned government agencies are buying the various Covid-19 vaccines.
“More than deficiencies and neglect, the COA may find corrupt transactions of overpricing and huge commissions shrouded in cavalier claims of secret price tags,” Lagman said.