By Prior Beharry
THE ANSA McAL has promised to pay US$8.4 million for 351,000 Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines on behalf the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
This was revealed by the group’s Chief Executive Officer Anthony N Sabga III.
In a release on Monday, Sabga said since the beginning of the year, ANSA was working assiduously to secure vaccines from different manufacturers.
He said, “We have been in constant communication with the Ministry of Health, recognising that vaccine procurement can only be done with the support of the Government of T&T.”
Sabga said at a February 17 meeting Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh asked top business leaders to help fund vaccines for citizens of T&T.
He said, “The minister described an urgent situation: the Government had negotiated the direct purchase of 351,000 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. for US$8.4 million and was required to confirm the order the next day or lose it. He said any contribution of ANSA would be appreciated.”
Sabga said after an emergency board meeting, ANSA decided to fund the entire Pfizer order and would retain none of the 351,000 vaccines to be used to vaccinate the citizens of T&T.
He said given the shortage of foreign exchange, ANSA requested that the Government allocate the forex so the payment could be made in a timely manner.
Sabga said, “Finally, ANSA requested that the contribution of all private sector companies purchasing vaccines for the exclusive use of vaccinating the public, be credited against taxes payable for the income year 2021. The participating companies would have allocated their capital for investment and business operations for 2021 but would be satisfied in knowing that the health and welfare of our citizens would be secured.”
He added, “Governments around the globe routinely encourage business philanthropy through tax incentives as a key source of funding.”
Sabga said he later learned that the Health Ministry also made the request to energy companies to help fund the vaccines.
He said he renewed his call to help, in a February 24 letter to Deyalsingh, if the energy companies could no raise the full amount.
In a letter dated March 12, to ANSA Deyalsingh said, “The Government and the people of T&T have benefitted from your kindness and generosity through your donation.”
He said about two weeks ago, ANSA alerted the ministry that it had secured one million doses of another approved vaccine.
Sabga said ANSA planned to purchase 100,000 vaccines in the first instance and would donate half of it to the Government.
He said the remaining 50,000 would be reserved for ANSA employees and their immediate families and some would be sold to the private sector.
Sabga said ANSA has written to Deyalsingh asking for support “to consummate this transaction in the most cost effective and efficient manner for the benefit of the citizens of T&T.”
He said ANSA was waiting on information from the supplier to present to the Government.