Why ‘raid’ national trust fund, Najib asks after new ordinance passed

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak has questioned the need for additional funds to procure vaccines following the passing of a new emergency ordinance that allows the government to tap into the national trust fund for such a purpose.

“I have no issue if the act was amended for vaccines, but I have my doubts over what has happened to the RM3 billion set aside in the federal budget,” the former prime minister said in a Facebook post, referring to the sum allocated for the procurement of vaccines.

Najib said Putrajaya had previously said RM2 billion from the allocation would be sufficient to vaccinate 83% of Malaysians and that the other RM1 billion would be used to store and distribute the vaccines.

However, after the emergency was proclaimed, the RM3 billion allocation for the vaccines was increased to RM5 billion on grounds that the government wanted to speed up its target of vaccinating 80% of its 32 million population by this December instead of February 2022.

Najib went on to ask why an additional RM2 billion was needed to speed up the vaccination exercise by a mere two months.

“And what has happened to the initial allocation of RM3 billion for the vaccines and funds from the sale of the national assets and cash reserves,” he said, questioning the basis for the national trust fund to be raided now.

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Najib said no withdrawals were made from the national trust fund during his tenure as the prime minister, adding that during his time the money in the fund increased to RM16 billion from RM4 billion.

Earlier today, the government passed a new emergency ordinance amending the National Trust Fund 1988 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 had 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 ordinance comes into effect immediately.

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