Finance Commission “dismayed” by mistakes in vaccine contracts

When buying vaccines, in two cases contracts and payments were probably not covered by loans. The Finance Commission is “dismayed”.

the essentials in brief

  • In two cases, contracts and payments for the purchase of the vaccine were probably not covered.
  • The Finance Committee of the National Council is anything but happy about it.

When buying vaccines against Covid-19, contracts and payments were probably not covered by loans in two cases. This is the conclusion reached by the Bund.

The Finance Committee of the National Council (FK-N) is anything but happy about it. The investigation was announced on Thursday. Questions about the supplementary credits for vaccines had previously arisen in the Council of States.

The Department of the Interior (EDI) and the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS) checked all loans and contracts. The examination of the contracts revealed that in two cases the contracts concluded with vaccine manufacturers could not be based on a commitment loan approved by Parliament. An already known case refers to the year 2020.

A second case relates to the beginning of May 2021. When the contract was signed, Parliament had not yet approved the commitment loan. A credit proviso applied until the end of May 2021.

Test results expected in August

However, Parliament only approved the necessary funds on June 7, 2021. An administrative investigation is now to clarify whether other steps could have been taken. The results are expected to be available in August.

The responsible National Council Commission reacted harshly to the first findings of the investigations. “The Finance Commission is dismayed and deeply regrets that there have been omissions.” This was said by Vice President Sarah Wyss (SP/BS) on Wednesday after an early morning meeting.

The errors mean that Parliament can no longer reduce the supplementary credit for 2022 requested by the Federal Council without consequences. The contracts with the vaccine manufacturers lack a reservation in the event that the loan of 172 million should be canceled or reduced.

“There is a clear omission here in that Parliament was left out,” said Wyss. Admittedly, this was probably not done on purpose. Despite this, Parliament has less room for manoeuvre.

Parliament now has no choice but to approve the CHF 172 million for vaccine procurement. In the event of a reduction below CHF 172 million, the Confederation would be in breach of contract. The Federal Council would have to decide whether to bear the corresponding legal consequences or to apply to Parliament for a credit overrun.

Less money for vaccine procurement

The Finance Committee of the National Council is now proposing to set the supplementary credit at around CHF 234 million. This includes the aforementioned CHF 172 million. The big chamber will discuss the business on Wednesday afternoon.

In view of the oversupply, the Council of States recently decided to provide less money for vaccines against Covid-19 than the Federal Council and National Council. He also decided to cut the additional commitment credit for next year from CHF 780 million to CHF 300 million.

FK-N now wants to set this loan at CHF 672 million. This smaller reduction would also mean that the contractually ordered vaccine delivery quantities for the next year would have to be adjusted. According to Wyss, new contracts would have to be negotiated with the manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech in such a case.

The EDI writes: In such a case, no guarantees could be given as to whether the intentions of Parliament would be adhered to in renegotiations. Another consequence of exercising the parliamentary scrutiny would be: A reservation fee of CHF 23 million that has already been paid would be forfeited.

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