Govt seeks Rs50bn cover for procuring Covid-19 vaccines

Published August 31, 2021
A woman holds a vial labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" over dry ice in this illustration. — Reuters/File
A woman holds a vial labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" over dry ice in this illustration. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has called a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday to approve Rs50.1 billion local currency cover for the $300 million financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

The ECC meeting will also take up the unending financial problems of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York despite an allocation of about $142m last year.

To be presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, the meeting is also expected to approve Rs215m technical supplementary grant (TSG) to the Election Commission of Pakistan for meeting expenditure for local government elections in 42 Cantonment Broads on September 12.

The Aviation Division has requested the ECC for additional federal government support to address financial challenges of Roosevelt Hotel, New York, which had been closed down last year when the government had approved $142m through a loan to be arranged by the National Bank of Pakistan, excluding annual carrying costs and markup, etc.

On June 16 this year, the ECC had discussed the Roosevelt Hotel issue and directed the Aviation Division and the Finance Division to work out the mode of financing for the hotel and come back with recommendations to the committee.

The ECC will also approve the rupee cover against $300m (Rs50.1bn) out of $500m committed by the ADB for procurement of Covid vaccines and ancillary goods and services during current fiscal year on the request of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination.

On August 5, the ADB approved and immediately signed a $500m loan to help Pakistan procure and deploy safe and effective vaccines for coronavirus disease and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement its vaccination programme.

The loan will support Pakistan’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) through purchase and delivery of estimated 39.8m doses of Covid-19 vaccines, safety boxes and syringes.

Soon after the approval of the Covid-19 Vaccine Support Project under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, the financing agreement was signed by the two sides. The signing had taken place within three hours after approval of the loan by the ADB’s Board of Directors.

Late last month, the ECC had directed the ministries of economic affairs and health to acquire donor funding for vaccine procurement to ward off a run-down on the country’s tight foreign exchange reserves.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2021

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