The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) last week said that the private sector being allowed to purchase vaccines for their own employees would lift some of the pressure off the government from its target of inoculating 70% of the population.
The business group urged the government to permit the private sector to do so, but with no strings attached—that is, no restrictions or conditions. It further said that the government should take up the proposal of House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez that would enable private firms to buy and import vaccines for their workers and their families, tax-free.
“We have to keep pace with our neighbors, which except for Indonesia, have lower infection rates than us and yet are ahead of (including Indonesia) in implementing the vaccination program,” said PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico in a statement. “We cannot risk being left behind again and revert to being the ‘basket case’ of Asia.”
These ‘conditions’ that Yujuico was referring to were not specified, but previously, the private sector was able to buy AstraZeneca shots, provided that half of the doses would be donated to the government.
Yujuico also said that the government should quicken the procurement and rollout of vaccines “to ensure the safety of our workers and people, improve consumer confidence and hasten the recovery of our economy.” To that end, the private sector should be allowed to buy vaccines “so we could move quickly and efficiently in vaccinating more people.”
Presidential adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion meanwhile declared that the private sector collectively agreed to partner with pharmaceutical company Zuellig in rolling out AstraZeneca jabs. For Concepcion, the partnership would guarantee efficient vaccine facilitation.
“The private sector is willing to pay for everything. In our town hall meeting last Thursday with the AstraZeneca donors, all companies agreed to fund and pay for the logistics cost of the vaccine rollout,” he said. “Our premise here is economic recovery. Economic recovery should start in the last quarter provided that no major lockdowns are set in place and that the rollout of the vaccine will be at lightning speed.”