by AZREEN HANI / pic by BLOOMBERG
THE government has gazetted amendments that allow it to use funds from the National Trust Fund (KWAN) to procure vaccines and any related expenses.
This was gazetted as the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, dated April 14, 2021.
KWAN is a savings fund collected from the country’s natural resources which is estimated to amount to more than RM16 billion. Based on the National Trust Fund Act 1988, the fund is paid through consolidated funds and Petroliam Nasional Bhd.
According to the latest ordinance, a new subsection to Section 6 of the National Trust Fund Act was added where subsections (a) and (b) state that the funds may be used either for a development fund or the granting of loans or advances on concessionary terms to the federal government or the government of any state.
The new subsection (c) states that the fund can be used for the “procurement of vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines for an epidemic of any infectious disease as specified under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988”.
This is the latest amendment made in recent weeks, after a new Emergency Ordinance was gazetted on March 31, allowing the prime minister (PM), chief ministers (CMs) or mentris besar (MBs) to pass a supplementary budget and use consolidated funds without having to go through the legislature during the Emergency period.
The ordinance, now available on the Attorney General’s Chambers website, states that the federal treasury, MB or CM can use the budget from their respective consolidated funds without approval of legislation from the date.
Amid the Opposition’s objections over the gazette, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the amendment was not “something new”.
He added that various factors were taken into consideration for the development of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 that was gazetted.
“The amendment is in line with the temporary financial provision in Section 3 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No 3, 1969 and 14 notices regarding treasury that were made from 1969 until 1971, which were the foundation for the amendment of the Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) 2021.
“The section relating to the temporary financial budget in the Emergency Ordinance is not new. Matters relating to the tabling of the annual budget and supplementary budget have been implemented during the emergency period from 1969 until 1971,” he said in a statement earlier this month.
Due to the Emergency proclamation, all legislatures have been suspended from Jan 11 until Aug 1.
Former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on Tuesday, had requested to seek an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to present their petition to put an end to the ongoing Emergency.
The online petition, signed by almost 40,000 people to date, was submitted by the Committee to End Emergency chaired by Shah Alam lawmaker Khalid Abdul Samad.
Dr Mahathir said the request for the audience is also to rectify the ongoing Emergency, which he believes is not being used for the public’s benefit.