Galvez assures private sector of tax-free COVID-19 vaccine purchase

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30)— COVID-19 vaccines that will be purchased by the private sector will be tax-free, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said on Tuesday.

In a Palace briefing, Galvez said the vaccine importation “will be tax-free at (and) Custom-free.”

He did not elaborate.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered Galvez to approve documents allowing the private sector to import vaccines in a bid to reopen the economy.

His spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that a tripartite agreement with the national government is still required for the purchase as supply is still under emergency use authorization.

Wala pa pong approval for commercial use ang kahit anong bakuna,” Roque said in the same briefing. “Importante pa rin po ang lagda ng gobyerno, dahil nga po doon sa indemnity provision ng ating batas, na kung merong mga side effects, gobyerno pa rin ang magbabayad.”

[Translation: The vaccines have yet to gain approval for commercial use. The government's signature is still important because of the indemnity provision of the law, that if there are side effects, the government will still be the one to pay.]

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion echoed Roque's remark, underscoring the government holds the role in setting an indemnification clause in the tripartite agreement.

"The government will cover for the indemnification, in case there are people who filed complaints and have been ill. It's only the government who can do that," Concepcion told CNN Philippines' The Final Word on Tuesday.

Concepcion added the private sector will cover the logistics and handling costs once the purchased vaccines arrived in the country.

Galvez said any vaccine rollout by the private sector should still follow the the priority criteria.

LIST: Priority sectors, subgroups in COVID-19 vaccination program

Meanwhile, companies welcomed the move.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, said while they are happy about the development, details about the procurement requirements should be discussed.

“We need to know how it will be implemented. 'Pag nakabili kami nang diretso, mabilis na mabilis ‘yan (If we can buy directly, that will be very fast),” he said in a statement.

George Barcelon, president emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, also expressed hope that the paperwork will be reduced so that the private sector can immediately begin its inoculation drive.

CNN Philippines' Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.