DOF secures US$800-M loan for booster shots vs COVID-19

The Department of Finance (DOF) has so far secured financing totaling US$800 million (about P40 billion) from multilateral development banks (MDBS) to ensure adequate government funds to procure COVID-19 booster shots.

Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin reported to President Duterte on Tuesday that the DOF has signed a US$250-million loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and another US$250-million accord with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in December 2021.

An agreement for a US$300-million loan from the World Bank (WB) was also signed in December, said Agabin, who represented Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during the President’s first televised meeting with select Cabinet officials for 2022.

For the loan accords already signed with the AIIB and ADB, the DOF is waiting for the opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the effectivity of these financing agreements, said Agabin during the second part of the televised meeting that was aired Wednesday morning.

“We expect everything, we expect (these loans) to be effective around, towards the latter part of January. So that will give us funds to purchase our COVID booster shots, Mr. President,” said Agabin.

Attending the meeting via Zoom, Agabin also reported that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) under the leadership of Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero was able to clear shipments of 210.44 million vaccine doses as of Dec. 3o, 2021.

These vaccine doses delivered between March and December last year are more than enough to inoculate 100 percent of the country’s population of adults and children aged 12-17 years old.

“The BOC was able to clear each of the shipments within the day and bring it to the warehouse facility to prevent spoilage,” Agabin said.

Agabin also updated the President about the DOF’s recent efforts to withdraw US$80 million from the WB’s US$500-million 4th Disaster Risk Management Development Program with a Catastrophic Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDO4) last Dec. 27 to support the national government’s disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts in provinces devastated by typhoon “Odette.”

“Within the week we will draw again US$120 million from the same loan facility from the World Bank, that’s equivalent to P6 billion to fund the rehabilitation and recovery efforts in connection with ‘Odette’,” Agabin said.

Agabin also said Secretary Dominguez and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar Dulay have issued Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 22-2021 extending the tax filing and payment deadlines in the six regions declared by the President under a state of calamity because of typhoon ‘Odette.’

These are the regions of Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon—Palawan), Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Caraga, which were declared under a one-year state of calamity starting Dec. 21, 2021.

All December 2021 deadlines for filing and payment of tax returns, filing of tax refund applications (including of 12-percent value-added tax or VAT), processing of VAT refunds, as well as the statutory period to issue assessment notices and warrants of distraint and levy were moved 30 days later to various dates in January 2022 under the RR.

“Commissioner Billy (Dulay) and Secretary Dominguez can extend that depending on the circumstances,” Agabin said.

In response, President Duterte thanked the DOF for its “splendid achievement” in supporting the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts in “Odette”-hit areas.

“That’s a lot of money and if it is properly used, well I am sure that it will make the lives of many Filipinos better than yesterday. Thank you for your information and the money that you are bringing in. Salamat,” the President told Agabin. (DOF)