ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s anti-Covid-19 measures including vaccination, tests, and oxygen is expected to cost 550 million US dollars and more than 80 percent will be financed by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, President’s Secretary P B Jayasundera said.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration did not budget for Covid-19 control measures when the then finance minister Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the 2021 budget in November last year.
After having infections under control as Europe and the US speeded up vaccines, the island nation had to rush for vaccines this year as Coronavirus infections suddenly surged after April.
Sri Lanka got its first vaccine consignment only in the last week of January this year as India started production.
Jayasundera, the country’s top most civil servant and the former finance secretary who still has influence in all economic policies said the country has got loans between 400-450 million US dollars from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“The real cost is more,” Jayasundera told EconomyNext in an interview.
“Vaccination, antigen, PCR, all other oxygen requirements I think altogether it will be between 500-550 million US dollars.”
The World Bank has said it had provided 217.56 million US dollars in financing Covid-19 control measures while the ADB has pledged 150 million US dollars for vaccination in Sri Lanka.
Jayasundera said the World Bank will be lending an additional 100 million dollars to the Covid-19 control measures.
Sri Lanka has given priority for the vaccination programme to ensure speed post-covid-19 economic recovery.
Around 51 percent of Sri Lanka’s 22 million population are fully vaccinated while 64 percent have got at least one does.
The island nation has purchased mainly Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm. Sri Lanka could not get other vaccines on time and conveniently as the Chinese vaccines.
The government has been also bearing the cost of PCR testing, managing quarantine centres and managing critical patients in intensive care units of state-run hospitals. ICU and High Density Care units have also been boosted. (Colombo/September 17/2021)