The federal government shouldn’t be being requested to permit the non-public sector to buy and import COVID-19 vaccines tax-free

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 9) – The measures proposed in the House of Representatives aim to allow private companies to purchase coronavirus vaccines alone and without import duties and taxes.

House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez tabled House Resolution No. 1453 this week calling on the national government to authorize the private sector to buy vaccines for their employees and families. He invoked the “right of Filipinos to health”.

In a press release on Thursday, the representative of Cagayan de Oro City said it was necessary to develop private businesses as the € 72.5 billion the national government earmarked for COVID-19 vaccines in the 2021 budget was insufficient to vaccinate all Filipinos.

The government plans to receive 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from around seven companies this year. If this goes as planned, around 50 to 70 million Filipinos could be vaccinated by the end of 2021, leaving millions without immunity.

Rodriguez also filed House Bill # 8301, which seeks to exempt private sector vaccine purchases from import duties, sales tax, excise tax and other fees. Only those approved by the Food and Drug Administration are allowed to enter.

“Many private companies have expressed an interest in purchasing and purchasing vaccines for their employees and their loved ones in order to achieve higher productivity and higher incomes for their employees,” said Rodriguez.

The government has so far received 2.6 million doses of vaccine from UK drug maker AstraZeneca through a private sector donation made possible through a tripartite agreement. More than 30 companies attended, with the biggest names in the industry attending the virtual signing in November. These include the President and Chief Operating Officer of San Miguel Corporation, Ramon Ang, the Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corp., Jaime Zobel de Ayala, and the President and CEO of the JG Summit, Lance Gokongwei.

More than 2 million more vaccine doses are expected to be sourced for a second batch, with more than 200 companies stepping in.

The Quezon City government also signed a tripartite agreement with Astrazeneca and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 that enabled it to sign a 750,000-doses contract for the city’s voters.

The FDA is still reviewing AstraZeneca’s application for approval of the vaccine for use in the country’s emergency. The US company Pfizer and the Russian Gamaleya Institute are also looking for EUA.