Johor Amanah deputy: State assembly must sit now to lock down budget for extra Covid-19 doses

Amanah deputy chief Dzulkefly Ahmad said that it was important to call for the special sitting because the state was now in a critical situation. — Picture by Ben Tan
Amanah deputy chief Dzulkefly Ahmad said that it was important to call for the special sitting because the state was now in a critical situation. — Picture by Ben Tan

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JOHOR BARU, May 19 — Johor Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) today urged the state government to convene a special state legislative assembly sitting to discuss an additional Budget specifically for the urgent purchase of Covid-19 vaccines for the state.

Its deputy chief Dzulkefly Ahmad said that it was important to call for the special sitting because the state was now in a critical situation.

He suggested that aggressive steps be taken by the state government to obtain additional vaccines for its population.

“Usually, the state legislative assembly will convene in May and June to present a Budget or additional allocation, especially for expenditure not included in the annual state Budget presentation late last year.

“In addition, there can also be expenditure that has been included in the annual state Budget but requires additional allocation,” he said.

However, Dzulkefly said at the moment, the state’s legislative powers have been suspended due to the Emergency.

“Despite that, the state government can still take the initiative by calling for elected representatives to discuss and give ideas in this regard.

“What is important is the purchase of additional vaccines for the people in Johor that is not dependent on the federal government through the Health Ministry,” said Dzulkefly in a statement to Malay Mail today.

His comments came shortly after Johor Opposition leader Aminolhuda Hassan had earlier today urged the state government to immediately obtain additional vaccines from the federal government to meet the urgent demand for 2.9 million doses in the state.

Aminolhuda said Johor can emulate the recent steps taken by the Sarawak and Selangor state governments which intend to procure the vaccines on their own instead of fully depending on the federal government.

Dzulkefly, who is also the Kota Iskandar assemblyman, emphasised that the Johor government cannot give reasons that it has financial problems on such matters.

He explained that the Johor government can use the state’s reserve of RM3.068 billion and the Johor Heritage Trust Fund’s RM680.37 million for the procurement and purchase of the vaccine.

“These funds and reserves can be used to purchase additional vaccines specifically for the people in the state,” said the former senior executive councillor in the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government.

Dzulkefly pointed out that it is imperative for the state government to provide provisions to protect the people with the purchase of additional vaccines.

“It is also to aid in the speeding up of the Covid-19 vaccination process in the state, as well as to reduce the rate of new daily cases that occur.

“What happened to the vaccination process today?” he questioned, claiming that it did not reach the target figure that it was supposed to.

Earlier, Aminolhuda urged the Johor state government to hold discussions with the federal government to urgently procure the needed vaccines.

He said Johor can’t afford to wait too long if the state government wants to target 2.9 million vaccine recipients in a short span of time.

Yesterday, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the federal government allowed state governments to purchase their own supply of Covid-19 vaccines as long as these have been approved for use by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

However, he suggested that this condition meant the states were not likely to obtain the vaccines ahead of the federal government due to existing agreements with the vaccine manufacturers.

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