Tapping of National Trust Fund during Emergency must be approved and scrutinised

Dr Kelvin Yii

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KUCHING, April 22: The federal government is urged to immediately reconvene Parliament and allow a parliamentary oversight over the use of the National Trust Fund (KWAN) for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and related expenditures.

This is the view of Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Health, Science and Innovation chairman Dr Kelvin Yii when he said the government must be transparent with their plans to tap into KWAN that is contributed by any states in Malaysia through their natural resources

“According to the Section 5(c) of National Trust Fund Act 1988, a huge majority of such funds comes from contributions made by any state in Malaysia which derives any form of royalty from the exploitation of petroleum or other depleting resources, in other words Petronas.

“That means such a trust fund was created from our country’s natural resources and is estimated to be worth about RM16.9 billion currently and since its inception has not been used once as it is reserved mainly for the usage and benefits of our future generations.

“In any case, the usage of such funds must go through approval and scrutiny in Parliament so that this money that is for the people is really being spent prudently and efficiently,” he said in a statement today.

He was responding to yesterday’s (April 22) event where the federal government approved amendments to the National Trust Fund Act 1988 (Act 339), allowing funds from KWAN to be used for the procurement of vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines.

This amendment to Section 6 of the National Trust Fund Act 1988 based on the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 was promulgated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on April 14, according to a news report by Malay Mail.

In view of such event, Dr Yii who is also Bandar Kuching MP, asserted that such additional spending must be overseen in Parliament to make sure that KWAN is not abused and is effectively utilised for its intended target.

He noted that Parliament in 2020 had already passed a RM3 billion budget for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and recently it was hiked up to RM5 billion without going through Parliament, but through the emergency powers which will be effective until Aug 1.

“As an MP from Sarawak where a huge chunk of such contributions into that trust funds comes from our oil and gas resources, I demand absolute transparency of the governments plans on how they intend to use such funds and whether the usage is justifiable or not to prevent any hint of abuse.

“We must be allowed to play an effective role in providing a ‘check and balance’ mechanism in the democratic system to the government to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability especially during this period of pandemic,” he added. — DayakDaily