Guan Eng: What of Covid-19 vaccine procurement under National Trust Fund now that Emergency Ordinances ‘revoked’?

Lim said the government has yet to reveal how much of the RM5 billion has been appropriated from KWAN for the vaccine purchases to date. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Lim said the government has yet to reveal how much of the RM5 billion has been appropriated from KWAN for the vaccine purchases to date. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today the government’s sudden announcement over the apparent revocation of the Emergency Ordinances now meant that it would be unable to procure sufficient funds from the National Trust Fund (KWAN) to procure Covid-19 vaccines.

Lim pointed out that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government had previously relied on the Emergency Ordinance to amend the National Trust Fund (KWAN) Act — without the approval of Parliament — to allow the government to appropriate some RM5 billion to purchase vaccines under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).

“Without using Emergency powers to amend the KWAN Act, the government cannot appropriate money from a fund set up as an investment for the future.

“If the Emergency Ordinance amending the Act to appropriate RM5 billion to purchase vaccines is revoked on July 21, will the federal government have sufficient funds to complete the procurement?

The revocation of the Emergency Ordinances may result in the government having to find other sources of funding to make up for any shortfall of the RM5 billion,” he said in a statement here.

He said the government has yet to reveal how much of the RM5 billion has been appropriated from KWAN for the vaccine purchases to date, before urging Bank Negara Malaysia to step in for the sake of public transparency and accountability by revealing the amount drawn down thus far.

On July 26, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law Affairs) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan revealed in Parliament that the six Emergency Ordinances drafted and enforced during the period of Emergency were voided and annulled by the government on July 21 after a Cabinet meeting on the same date.

Lim said the legal confusion was both a testament to the whole-of-government failure of misusing the Emergency to contain the third wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths on the pretense of consolidating power, but also a failure in public governance.

In April, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz justified the recent decision by Putrajaya to utilise KWAN’s funds to procure vaccines, saying this was the correct time to use such reserves, and if not now, when.

On April 14, the government approved amendments to the National Trust Fund (KWAN) Act 1988 (Act 339) through the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to allow money from the fund to procure vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines.

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