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Most Covid-19 vaccine funds still unspent

Only Tk 22.49 billion spent on vaccine purchases

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 29 September, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Most Covid-19 vaccine funds still unspent

The government has spent Tk 22.49 billion to purchase Covid-19 vaccines in the last one and a half years for the vaccination programmes to contain the spread of the pandemic and support economic recovery from the crisis. 

Of the money, Tk 12.72 billion has been paid to Serum Institute of India as advance to procure 30 million shots of Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs, and the rest has been spent on procuring vaccines from China, according to finance ministry data.

The ministry of finance has already started the process of releasing another Tk 62.20 billion to procure more vaccines as inoculation is globally seen as the key to bringing back normalcy in lives and livelihoods.

“We’re releasing funds as soon as the ministry of health seeks money. Money is not a problem at all,” a finance ministry high official said, seeking not to be named. 

In last fiscal year, the government preliminarily set aside Tk 100 billion for purchasing vaccines, which was later revised downward to Tk 63.77 billion.

In the end, the ministry of finance released Tk 15.53 billion in FY21, including Tk 12.72 billion for Indian Serum Institute and the rest for the Chinese Sinopharm, official sources said. 

The government plans to inoculate 80 per cent of its population within the next 1.5 to 2 years. It will require $3.07 billion or Tk 260.95 billion, a large portion of which is expected to come from development partners as loans.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide $940 million to help Bangladesh procure Covid-19 vaccines. Of the amount, Bangladesh has received $747 million which is being spent on vaccines, a finance ministry official informed.  

In the current 2021-22 fiscal year, the government has allocated Tk 140 billion to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.

The government has already signed a deal with Sinopharm to procure a total of 75 million shots of Covid-19 jabs from the Chinese company. The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase first approved 15 million and then another 60 million.

The directorate of health is procuring the 60 million doses of vaccines from Sinopharm under a Direct Procurement Method (DPM). The vaccines are expected to reach the country by November.

 For releasing the money, the ministry of finance tagged the conditions of following the Public Procurement Act 2006 and Public Procurement Rules 2008.

Meanwhile, the government is trying to collect a large chunk of vaccines with the help of UNICEP. The finance division has started all the processes in this regard. It may cost the government Tk 62.20 billion, a finance ministry high official said.

 A World Bank assessment says that the global economy will gain momentum again, once people across the globe are vaccinated with the observation that the Covid-19 vaccine is now at the driving seat of the global economy.