The government will return unused loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) that were intended for purchasing Covid-19 vaccines, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said during the Chat with SBED briefing last Friday that the World Bank has recommended returning the unused $320 million earmarked for Covid-19 vaccines and considering a new loan program.

"The advice of World Bank is its better to return those funds and come up with a new program," the finance chief told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English.

He further said that the borrowed funds, totaling approximately P18 billion, went unused as several countries had already provided donations of Covid-19 vaccines.

When asked what kind of program they have in mind, Diokno said it will be, "the strengthening of local health to prepare for the next pandemic." 

The DOF chief also revealed that there were unutilized funds from the ADB but figures are yet to be revealed.

The finance chief earlier said they were requesting the Department of Health for the exact figure of unutilized vaccine loans.

Diokno previously said that it appeared the Duterte administration had overestimated the vaccine needs of the country.

He explained that the country’s borrowing for Covid-19 vaccine procurement surpassed the actual requirements, leading to the need to return some unutilized funds.

In 2021, the Philippines was granted a cumulative loan amount of $2 billion by the World Bank, ADB, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to facilitate the country’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines. (Xander Dave G. Ceballos)

Source: Manila Bulletin (