PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has been urged to disclose exactly how much it intends to withdraw from the National Trust Fund (KWAN) for vaccine expenses.
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), in a statement, called for greater transparency and accountability from the government, with some RM17.4 billion reportedly parked under the trust fund.
It noted that RM5 billion had already been allocated previously for vaccines through the budget, with RM3 billion in the 2021 budget and an additional RM2 billion announced in March.
IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh urged Putrajaya to provide more details on how the money will be spent, saying clarification was needed as to why more funds were now required for the vaccination initiative.
She said the emergency ordinance that allowed Putrajaya to tap into KWAN had set a precedent for further dipping into the trust fund, from which the government had made only one withdrawal since 1988.
“Ultimately, KWAN is the only oil-related fund in Malaysia. Considering how this country is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue, the governance of this fund is crucial.
“A total of RM17.4 billion has been accumulated after 33 years of the trust fund’s existence, and these savings should be considered a precious resource for future generations, only to be used in extraordinary and emergency circumstances.
“In the long term, the government must look into implementing more specific withdrawal rules for KWAN, such as setting an agreed-upon percentage of the fund that can be withdrawn to ensure budget stability,” she said.
She also said Putrajaya could have financed additional spending through more borrowings rather than dipping into KWAN.
She maintained that parliamentary oversight was crucial, calling for Parliament to be allowed to reconvene soon.