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KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin today sought to explain the RM70 million allocation for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP), which was channelled for its data integration and vaccination appointment system.
In a statement today, the NIP’s coordinating minister said that the fund would be spent on the integration and development of an intermediary system to facilitate the registration process for vaccine recipients, and monitoring of vaccine supply, from its receipt to completion of doses at each and every vaccination centres (PPVs).
“Among the systems that will be developed are the management and monitoring of NIP achievements, development of the NIP’s daily reporting dashboard, system integration to connect the MySejahtera database with the existing Ministry of Health’s pharmacy system, chatbot system development, development of the Vaccine Registration portal, registration and vaccination tracking system as well as the development of Google Map service (tracking system) in MySejahtera,” Khairy said.
Others he said, included the development of a genomic surveillance system and immune system surveillance, procurement of the Mobile Queue management system for the PPVs, integration of the digital passport system in MySejahtera, logistics management system and vaccine delivery network, operation of call centres based at the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF), the Malaysian Vaccine Support Volunteers or the MyVAC system for the management of volunteer mobilisation for the programme.
In what seems an exhaustive list, Khairy said that the fund also takes into account the cost of sending SMSes and phone calls for vaccination reminders between five to 10 reminders per person.
“As I stated in the press statement yesterday, the total allocation of RM5 billion included each of the items listed, which is the ceiling limit set by the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Although the final amount of expenditure is not yet final but it cannot exceed the ceiling level that has been set.
“As everyone knows, the NIP is the largest immunisation programme ever implemented in Malaysia, involving a total of 26.5 million people or equivalent to 80 per cent of the total population of three countries.
“The NIP will take place throughout the year which will definitely require a sufficient amount of allocation to enable it to be implemented properly and in an orderly manner. Therefore, there is no issue and claims as if the allocation spent is not prudent,” he added.
Khairy yesterday revealed that the government has allocated a whopping RM333 million for utility and rental to run the NIP, and another RM200 million in allowance for the Malaysia Vaccine Support Volunteer (MyVac), members of the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) and the Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM).
In a statement detailing the breakdown, he explained why the cost of the programme ballooned to RM5 billion, from the initially announced RM3 billion.
Khairy said RM55 million was allocated for community outreach and vaccination advocacy efforts, as well as RM110 million for contingency plans.
Khairy added that though the cost of the NIP is not final, price ceiling limits for needed expenditures are already set. However, he did not detail a time period for the estimated spending.
Khairy’s statement comes on the heels of Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz’s recent statement, justifying the recent decision by Putrajaya to utilise the National Trust Fund’s (KWAN) money to procure vaccines, saying this was the correct time to use such reserves, and if not now, when.
In his press conference yesterday, Tengku Zafrul singled out issues like 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) outstanding RM40 billion debt as an example of legacy debt obligations the government has to honour, and of fiscal limitations faced by them that limits borrowing.
Tengku Zafrul had also mentioned how RM42 million of funds from KWAN had been previously utilised for the preservation of the Paya Indah Wetland in Putrajaya, opposing criticism that claimed funds were left untouched even during the 1998 and 2008 financial crises.
His remarks invited criticism from his predecessor, Lim Guan Eng.
The DAP secretary-general dismissed Tengku Zafrul’s claim that KWAN fund is being used for its actual purpose, which should be for the benefit of future generations, unlike the vaccines.
Lim said the government should have instead borrowed the required funds from domestic loan sources for the procurement of the vaccines, then accusing the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government of misusing their powers conferred under the Emergency Ordinances to utilise such funds without necessary oversight.