New law to allow govt to tap into RM16.9bil trust fund

PETALING JAYA : The government has passed a new emergency ordinance which has amended the National Trust Fund 1988 (KWAN) Act to allow it to be used for the procurement of vaccines and related expenditure.

Set up in 1988 and managed by Bank Negara Malaysia, the fund reportedly has RM16.9 billion in assets as at the end of 2017, with Petronas as its most notable contributor.

Today’s newly-gazetted Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 adds a new subsection to Section 6 of the National Trust Fund Act, which 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 (Act 342)”.

The government can dip into the RM16.9bil fund to buy vaccines or for other related expenditure. (Bernama pic)

The fund is made up of contributions made by states which derive any form of royalty from the exploitation of petroleum or other depleting resources, or any authority whose business includes research or development of a depleting resource.

Late last month, the government gazetted an ordinance which allowed the prime minister, chief ministers or menteris besar to pass a supplementary budget and tap into consolidated funds without the approval of Parliament or the respective state assemblies during the emergency period.

It came into effect immediately and has been criticised by various parties for the lack of checks and balances on the use of state funds.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed an emergency on Jan 11 as a measure to contain the worsening Covid-19 pandemic, with both the Parliament and state legislative assemblies suspended since then.

The emergency is expected to last until Aug 1 or an earlier date depending on the pandemic’s situation in the country.

FMT

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