Economist: Govt needs parliamentary approval to use KWAN funds

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Tapping into the National Trust Fund (KWAN) needs parliamentary approval, economist and former executive director of Khazanah Nasional Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said.

Putrajaya must therefore call for a sitting in order to sanction any use of money from the fund meant to conserve national wealth from petroleum and other national resources, he said on Twitter.

“KWAN is for our future generation and to use the fund, a parliamentary sitting needs to take place.

“If there is not enough budget (to purchase Covid-19 vaccine) the government should ask for an additional budget through parliament,” he said in a series of tweets.

The former Balik Pulau MP also tweeted a copy of the federal gazette of the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which allows the government to tap into KWAN, which is the country’s natural resources wealth fund, for expenditure related to the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine.

KWAN, which is governed by the National Trust Fund Act 1988, is managed by Bank Negara Malaysia.

According to the 2019 Auditor-General Report, there was RM16.03 billion in the fund as at December 31, 2019.

Nungsari also tweeted that had Parliament not been suspended, the government would not been able to touch the trust fund.

“If Parliament is not suspended, this will not happen,” said Nungsari, who was Balik Pulau MP from 1995 to 1999.

Malaysia has been under a state of emergency since January 11, called ostensibly to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Parliament is suspended during the emergency, which is until August 1 or earlier if the government decides that the pandemic situation has eased.

Putrajaya has been criticised for using an emergency law to tap KWAN, more so when it already allocated RM2.05 billion under Budget 2021 for vaccine purchases to cover 26.5 million people or slightly more than 80% of the population.

Since the release of the federal gazette yesterday, the government has yet to explain how much more funds are needed for vaccine procurement.

Malaysia is currently in the midst of a national Covid-19 immunisation drive with 474,213 people having completed their vaccination and 757,547 receiving the first dose as of yesterday.

Several politicians, such as Kuching MP Kelvin Yii, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, have called today for Parliament to reconvene to discuss the slow pace of vaccination and the necessity of tapping KWAN funds. – TMI

Related report: 22 Apr, Politicians shocked that PN govt resorted to tap into trust fund