(MENAFN – Caribbean News Global)
Last Thursday, the Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, held an impromptu press briefing to clarify or rather reject the statement made to the Committee on Public Administration and Appropriations (PAAC) of Parliament by the permanent secretary of his ministry , who said the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) “ paid for the vaccines.
Minister Deyalsingh refuted his permanent secretary and said the money used to buy COVID vaccines from COVAX came from an existing IDB loan cabinet signed since 2016 and the US $ 148,084.16 was not a subsidy but rather a loan to which the taxpayer will have to repay the IADB. While Deyalsingh refuted, he did not disclose the total amount of the IADB loan. However, his statement raises more questions than answers on this very controversial issue.
It was Minister Deyalsingh who on September 29, 2020 apparently said that the government had already paid COVAX $ 1,477 million or TT $ 10 million to COVAX as a deposit for between 100,000 and 120,000 vaccines.
On October 9, 2020, ten days after paying TT $ 10 million to COVAX, Minister Deyalsingh told Parliament that Cabinet had approved a note to invest US $ 9,741,236.00 or TT $ 66,142,999.23 for the purchase of 462,000 vaccines. The figure was presented to parliament in the 2021 budget and there was no indication by Deyalsingh that this money came from an existing IDB lending firm signed in 2016.
Based on Minister Deyalsingh’s disclosure to Parliament on October 9, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago is paying over US $ 21.00 per dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, CNBC’s website quotes the Financial Times as saying that the price of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was around US $ 3 to US $ 4, citing supply agreements reached through October 7.
AstraZeneca was priced at US $ 2.15 in the European Union, according to Bio Space.
During the impromptu press conference, Minister Deyalsingh also said that the IDB loan was “one of three funding streams” approved by Cabinet, followed by loans from the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance.
Is Minister Deyalsingh suggesting that his department will get a loan from the Department of Finance?
It is indeed rare that a minister publicly contradicts a permanent secretary who is the financial director of the ministry.
Is it a loan or a grant? what is the truth?
On May 12, 2020, media reported that Finance Minister Colm Imbert expects the government to spend TT $ 6 billion on COVID-19 issues by the end of September 2020.
Has Imbert provided the country with an analysis of how these billions will be spent?
And now, according to Minister Deyalsingh, the cost of the vaccines comes from a loan, not the $ 6 billion Imbert keeps referring to.
That $ 6 billion has been significantly increased by new levies from the FSS and grants the country has received from international organizations to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the international community’s assistance includes $ 20 million from the World Bank to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen national public health preparedness systems and a $ 50 million loan from CAF- Latin American Development Bank.
Despite extensive questions from the opposition, the media and the public regarding its overall funding for the fight against the pandemic, the National People’s Movement (PNM) government led by Keith Rowley has not been transparent about where billions of dollars are going. dollars.
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