Wednesday Jun 09, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday approved $1bn to procure coronavirus vaccines as the government plans to expedite the vaccination campaign, according to sources.
Sources said the finance minister, while chairing a meeting of the cabinet's Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), approved the proposal to purchase vaccines worth $1bn which will be used to vaccinate seven million Pakistanis by the year-end.
The ECC greenlighted to release $180mn in the first phase of the procurement, confirmed sources, adding that the funds will be issued to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
CanSinoBio, Sinovac, Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines will be bought from the $1bn funds approved by the ECC.
Other decisions taken during the committee's meeting included the approval of fee grants for students in the country’s backward areas, said sources.
It also agreed to establish a fund for the "Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye Programme", a policy initiative of the government to eliminate hunger across Pakistan.
The ECC okayed a technical supplementary grant of Rs1.16bn for the controller general and a technical grant of Rs378 mn for the Ministry of Education, sources added.
A technical supplementary grant of Rs330mn was also approved for the auditor general, said sources.
According to an earlier report in The News, the government intends to vaccinate 70mn people by the end of the year.
But the major hurdle that Pakistan faces is the ban on the export of the vaccine imposed by India. Pakistan had hoped to procure a maximum number of vaccines from New Delhi.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had assured the nation earlier that the government was not solely relying on gifts and donations for coronavirus vaccines and had a purchase plan in place.
Speaking to the media from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Dr Sultan had said misinformation was circulating regarding the government’s plan regarding purchase of vaccines.
He had said that the government has signed contracts with three vaccine companies to secure supplies of the COVID-19 vaccination shots.
“To say that the government is waiting to receive vaccines as gifts is incorrect,” Dr Sultan had said.
The SAPM had explained that there was a delay in the vaccine's arrival to the country because of supply shortages across the world.