Transmission network operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines on Wednesday asked lawmakers to allow private companies to import, tax-free, doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for use of their employees.
NGCP president and chief executive Anthony Almeda said this would enable businesses to give the economy a much-needed boost in activity.
Almeda appealed to lawmakers to pass a law encouraging the private sector to provide vaccination to employees.
“With a vaccination program in place for the private sector, more businesses and industries will be able to regain some semblance of normal activity, bounce back, and put the economy on its way to recovery after almost a year of slow down,” Almeda said in a statement.
NGCP, with a 5,000-strong workforce, continues to monitor the progress and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries.
“Vaccination, as well as mass testing, is focally critical in the fight against COVID-19. We need to prevent, detect, isolate, and treat. We need to jumpstart the economy now, but we need to ensure that we stack the odds against infections in the workplace,” Almeda said.
NGCP is assessing the possibility of providing its employees, including essential personnel comprised of grid dispatchers and transmission line personnel with the necessary vaccine doses as soon as it becomes available.
“We encourage our counterparts in both the public and private sectors, to be similarly pro-active in protecting their employees, so that we can keep the economy running at full speed,” Almeda said.
NGCP renewed its commitment to enforce all health and safety protocols mandated by the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment to mitigate the spread of the virus in the workplace. It also continues to help local governments, national health agencies, and various communities fight the disease.
NGCP donated P 1 billion to the national government to aid Filipinos in the early days of quarantine protocols.
About 1.25 million food bags, 10 mechanical ventilators, 6 RT-PCR machines, 20,520 test kits, 100 test booths and testing services, 9 ambulances, 1 isolation room, and 4.6 million PPEs (masks, gloves, bunny suits etc.) were donated to over 1,028 LGUs, more than 300 public and private medical facilities and countless other public and private organizations.
NGCP also donated three additional ambulances to various local governments hosting its facilities and 10,000 test kits, 50 test booths and testing services to Pasay City.
NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders and vice chairman of the board Henry Sy, Jr. and co-vice chairman Robert Coyiuto, Jr.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on the government to allow private companies to have a bigger role in responding to the challenges of transport and storage of COVID-19 vaccines.
PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said the daunting logistical challenge presented by the vaccine, which the Philippine government is set to procure, needs a public-private partnership to ensure its successful roll-out.
Yujuico noted some reports that the vaccines, now in advance stages of development, require meticulous handling and sub-zero cold chain infrastructure, which the country does not currently have.
“There are no facilities in the country that can handle -80°C. The lowest temperature our cold storage facilities can go down to is -20°C to 25°C. The same is true for refrigerated trucks,” he said.
Cold storage facilities and refrigerated trucks in the country also handle mixed cargo―fish, meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.