Finance minister: RM15b left in National Trust Fund reserves after RM5b spent on Covid-19 vaccines, to be replenished once economy stabilises

In his winding-up speech on the National Trust Fund (Amendment) Bill 2021, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was asked about KWAN’s funds being spent under the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. — Bernama pic
In his winding-up speech on the National Trust Fund (Amendment) Bill 2021, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was asked about KWAN’s funds being spent under the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz today said that RM15 billion is still left in the National Trust Fund (KWAN) after RM5 billion was used, mostly to procure Covid-19 vaccines.

In his winding-up speech on the National Trust Fund (Amendment) Bill 2021, Tengku Zafrul was asked about KWAN’s funds being spent under the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

“For your information Subang, after using RM5 billion of KWAN’s fund to procure vaccines, the KWAN fund still has a balance of RM15 billion.

“After the nation’s economy stabilises, we will take efforts to replenish the KWAN fund which needs to be done with cooperation from various necessary parties,” he said.

He added that both the federal and state governments must also commit themselves to the matter and not just state-linked oil and gas giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

Bank Negara Malaysia is the administrator of the fund while all contributions have so far come from the national oil company, Petronas.

On a question from DAP’s Tanjong Malim MP Chang Lih Kang on the targeted deadline for the effort, Tengku Zafrul said that the government does not have a target as yet.

“We are still detailing. If we look at our deficit for next year and this year is still high, as we are still doing plans to do more fiscal injection.

“God willing in the year 2025, when our deficit fiscal target lowers again to 3 or 3.5 per cent, then the government will start replenishing the KWAN fund,” he added.

KWAN was set up in 1988 to raise government savings and provide alternative financing for development expenditures.

The fund had assets worth RM19.5 billion as of end-December 2020, RM10.4 billion from Petronas and RM9.1 billion from investment returns.

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

The Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 was evoked to make the amendment, a move which was met with strong opposition as critics raised concerns about the plan’s impact on future savings.

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