The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH) needs P1.6 billion in order to tame the marauding COVID-19 pandemic that is claiming more and more lives and overstretching the country’s health care system.
The Business Weekly & Review has established that owing to the lack at MoH, the Permanent Secretary Grace Muzila has presented a supplementary budget to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for buying vaccines, procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and pay for isolation centres.
An internal savingram dated 30 July 2021 gives a breakdown of expenditure to date and spending forecast up to the end of the financial year to justify the need for funds at the Ministry. “The Ministry was allocated an amount of P178,431,853.39 from the COVID-19 Relief Fund during (the) financial year 2020/21 and spent a total of P168,967,376.85,” Muzila wrote.
Muzila stated that the money was expended on hotel accommodation with an amount of P58,900,217.16 disbursed and a total of P54,918,487.90 spent as at January 2021. Muzila noted that the money was expended on laboratory commodities such as test kits, PPEs, contact tracing and domestic supplies and to pay for private security at quarantine sites and catering which all cost P164, 967,376.85.
The Health PS recalled that late last year, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of P1 billion for the MoH to fight the pandemic. “In September 2020, a supplementary budget of P1 billion was approved and availed to the ministry out of which an amount of P889,413,105.00 (was) expended as at 31st March 2021,” Muzila noted. “The budget was utilised by both the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration (MOPAGPA).”
According to figures provided by the PS, actual expenditure at MOPAGPA was P457, 427,739 which was used in procurement of vaccine test kits, PPEs, and isolation and quarantine costs. At MoH, P431,985,366 was utilised for procurement of vaccines, salaries, overtime, PPEs, and vehicles for port health. “A total of P426,025,000.00 was allocated for COVID-19 activities during the current financial year 2021/22,” Muzila said. “As at 29 July 2021, total expenditure was P362,456,327.00 of which P131,324,589.00 was spent at MOPAGPA.”
The Permanent Secretary Muzila has found herself having to make another supplementary budget request of slightly over a billion pula for the 2021/22 financial year. She said the ministry intends to use the requested P1, 125,773,602.00 on vaccines and ancillary medical supplies, vaccination logistics, as well as securing medical oxygen.
Amidst dwindling state coffers and an economy at a crossroads, Muzila has also called on the private sector to aid the government. “It is noted that the cost of planned activities far outweighs the requested amount and the ministry intends to engage the private sector to participate in the fight against the pandemic,” she said. “This is in recognition of the government resource envelope and the fact that this is a national crisis and therefore the need for everyone to participate.”