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Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

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The money used to purchase the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility came from an existing Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) loan which the Cabinet signed on to since 2016. This is according to the Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh who clarified a disclosure by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary during a Public Administration and Appropriation Committee (PAAC) Wednesday that the IADB paid for the doses.

“We got our first tranche of 33,600 doses. That cost us US$148,084.06. That money was paid by the IDB under a loan agreement programme which the Cabinet signed on to in 2016. It is not a grant, IDB did not pay the money. It’s a loan and the Government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago would eventually have to repay that loan,” he said.

“We have this existing IDB loan called the HSSP loan­—Health Sector Support Programme loan signed off on in 2016 so…government made the payment to COVAX and then IADB would send the money back to us as part of the loan arrangement.”

He said it was decided to utilise this funding to get payment to the COVAX facility in the shortest possible time.

“If we had not paid in a particular timeframe the shipment of vaccines would have been delayed,” he said.

Minister Deyalsingh said the IADB is only one of “three streams of financing as approved by the cabinet” among the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance for the procurement of vaccines.

Minister Deyalsingh did not provide further details on the amount of money available through the World Bank loan nor did he indicate when the IADB loan would need to be repaid.