Govt must provide accounting for Covid-19 vaccine as RM5b to be used from National Trust Fund, says lawmaker

The Malaysian government must provide a detailed explanation on how money is being used in the battle against Covid-19, a lawmaker said today.

This comes after Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz revealed that RM5 billion from the National Trust Fund will be used to buy the vaccines.

“The government must provide the accounting. The answer (in not revealing the numbers) will be that it’s protected (agreement between government and supplier) but it’s unacceptable,” said Klang MP Charles Santiago.

“Other nations have opened up and Malaysia should do the same.”

Belgian secretary of state Eva De Bleeker, had in December, tweeted a table with the number of doses and price per dose of each vaccine. This was after a 30-hour debate on the Belgian budget in parliament. Pfizer complained of a breach of confidentiality and the tweet was subsequently deleted.

“I believe the money will also be used for storage and distribution. People would like to know how the money is being spent and if the accounts are laid on the table, then people won’t be presuming things.”

The Emergency (National Trust Fund) Ordinance 2021, which came into force last Wednesday, allows the government to source money from the fund.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute’s (Asli) Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, told Twentytwo13 last Thursday that there were claims Malaysia was overpaying for vaccines and that “this would be the right time for the government to announce the cost to prevent any leakage.”

Tengku Zafrul earlier today said the RM5 billion would be taken from NTF’s RM9 billion in returns. He stressed that the government would not use NTF’s RM10 billion principal funds.

He also said this was not the first time the government had used money from NTF, citing the RM42 million used for the Paya Indah Wetlands project.

“When we announced Budget 2021, we estimated the vaccines would cost RM3 billion and it was not included in the budget. This was only an estimation,” Tengku Zafrul said.

The additional RM2 billion would be for vaccine “buffer stock” and other expenditures related to the vaccination process. The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, currently in Phase Two, is scheduled to be completed by December.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

DR ADHAM: ASTRAZENECA VACCINE IS SAFE

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba says the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is safe. This despite several European countries suspending the vaccine after reports of blood clots among its recipients.

Speaking at a press conference today, Dr Adham said: “We will use the vaccine on those aged 60 years and above.”

Besides AstraZeneca, Malaysia already has the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines.

ACCELERATE VACCINATION RATE BY INCLUDING PHARMACISTS

In conjunction with World Immunisation Week (April 24-30), Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) developed and launched the Certified Training Programme On Immunisation for Pharmacists (CTPIP) Module.

The module aims to train and equip pharmacists with the relevant knowledge and professional training to administer vaccines to patients.

On Jan 27, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government will rope in community pharmacists to help with the Covid-19 vaccination efforts as the aim was to hit 150,000 administrations daily.

The vaccination rate for Malaysia is worrying as new Covid-19 cases have been increasing exponentially despite the government enforcing an emergency to cope with the pandemic.

With the assistance of community pharmacists, MPS believes vaccination can be stepped for Phase 3 starting next month.

NEARLY 100 SCHOOLS CLOSED IN SELANGOR, PENANG

A total of 99 schools – 79 in Selangor and 20 in Penang – were ordered closed due to Covid-19.

The Selangor Education Department said the schools would be closed today and tomorrow.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said schools with at least one Covid-19 case would be ordered to close for at least two days.

Penang Education director Abdul Rashid Abdul Samad confirmed the closure of 20 schools in the state but didn’t issue a list of those involved.

Separately, the Health Ministry said the number of Covid-19 clusters linked to educational institutions has increased by 83.3 per cent in the past week.

GENERAL OPERATIONS FORCE SEIZES HERBAL MEDICINE WORTH RM432,000

The 7th Battalion of the General Operations Force (PGA7 seized 4,800 bottles of jamu (herbal medicine) in a shophouse near Bandar Tasek Raja, Pasir Mas yesterday.

The haul is estimated to be worth RM432,000.

PGA7 commanding officer Supt Azhari Nusi said in a statement today the items did not have Health Ministry approval.

PENANG’S TAN GIN SOON NEW NATIONAL GYMNASTICS FEDERATION BOSS

Datuk Tan Gin Soon won the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation president’s post unopposed after incumbent Rachel Lau failed to attend the elections on Saturday.

Ex-gymnast Kau Git Kaur retained the No. 2 post after the council ruled his suspension was illegal.

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