JAKARTA - The House of Representatives has asked the government to complete a Rp 24 trillion payment for the procurement of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd in order to ensure continuation of partnership with the vaccine manufacturer.

According to House Commission IX member Netty Prasetiyani, the government needs to prepare a budget immediately so that state-owned pharmaceutical firm PT Bio Farma (Persero) can continue its partnership to Sinovac. "This will ensure public safety and thus needs to be prioritised," she said on Monday (5/10).

If the government, she said, is able to inject Rp 2 trillion into PT Bahana Pembina Usaha Indonesia (Persero) to save troubled state-owned insurance company PT Asuransi Jiwasraya (Persero), it has to be able to complete the Rp 24 trillion payment from Bio Farma to Sinovac so that the vaccine can be procured.

In addition, Ms Prasetiyani also said the government needs to ratify a Presidential Regulation to ensure that the vaccine will be widely available to the public. "A Presidential Regulation on the vaccine is very much necessary so that 170 million Indonesians can be vaccinated," she said.

Bio Farma has partnered Sinovac due to the latter's commitment for transfer of technology and its vaccine that has met the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has said that 70% of the people in Indonesia need to be vaccinated through two injections. (LK/MS)