Govt To Mobilize More Funds For COVID-19 Vaccines

The government is mobilizing funds to procure more COVID-19 vaccines in order to achieve the targeted 60 percent herd immunity as the budgeted US$100 million has been exhausted, 263Chat has learnt.

Presenting his mid-term fiscal review statement in Parliament last Thursday, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Professor Mthuli Ncube said Treasury was only left with US$6,8 million from the budgeted US$100 million set aside for vaccine’s procurement.

He indicated  that he was hopeful of using the country’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to access additional funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and he is subject to approval by both Parliament and the IMF, although fears are that the process might take long.

“When we think we have run out of money, surely we will come to the House, and I can say already, as we consider how to spend some of the SDR funds, we may want to make an allocation for further vaccine acquisition. So, we could cover that through a portion of SDRs, but we all have to agree through this august House,” said Ncube.

Ncube said the US$100 million COVID-19 war chest was funded from the 2020 budget surplus.

The government set an ambitious target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of the adult population, which means the country requires 20 million doses to meet the target.

“I must say that when we get SDR allocations, as I said earlier on, the US$1 billion, I need to come back to Parliament to seek permission on how we should spend that. That really would constitute a supplementary budget,” added Ncube.

In a statement Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) said without a supplementary budget, the fiscal review left a lot to be desired as it failed to capture many people’s expectations.

“Firstly, no further light was given about the procurement of vaccines. The minister highlighted that government had budgeted US$100 million for vaccines and to date, about US$93,2 million has been utilised. With the country still far from its primary goal of attaining herd immunity, the balance (US$6,8 million) for vaccine purchases seems inadequate in covering the need.

“Although some of these purchases are said to be covered through reallocation of budget votes from areas of less economic importance, the budget review is not sufficient without a supplement. An example of missed opportunities to have been catered for in the supplementary budget is the preparation for the reopening of schools. Government is pushing for schools reopening, but with zero spending on personal protective equipment for teachers, and masks for underprivileged children mostly in rural areas,” ZIMCODD said.

Zimbabwe is using vaccines from China (Sinopharm and Sinovac), Russia (Sputnik V) and India (Covaxin), for which an individual need two doses.

To date, Zimbabwe has taken delivery of 6 785 000 doses of the four vaccines, while 1 645 599 people had received the first dose by yesterday morning, with 767 910 fully vaccinated.

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