July 21, 2021 (PN)
The Public Accounts Commitee (PAC) which is set to resume its proceedings on July 27 will focus on the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines by the Federal government under the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV).
In its proceeding, the PAC is expected to call upon the vaccine coordinating minister Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who leads the JKJAV as well as the Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz to answer queries on the vaccine procurement plan.
Earlier on in January, Khairy and health minister Dr Adham Baba, as JKJAV co-chairmen had provided information on the Covid-19 contracts and prices to the PAC, following which the PAC was reported to be satisfied with their proposal notwithstanding the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) which some vaccine manufacturers had required the Malaysian government to sign in the procurement process.
The PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh, in a statement today, said updates for the procurement of vaccines during the six-month emergency period are needed.
“..the government should provide a more detailed explanation as the situation has changed compared to last January,” he said.
To date, the management of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP or PICK) has been riddled with discrepancies and scandals.
The NIP which, the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on June 28 during his Pemulih stimulus package national address, said would aim to inoculate 130 per cent of the population compared with 120 per cent had, up to this juncture, had received allegations of reduced vaccine dosage and empty syringes with no vaccine being given to vaccine recipients, queue-jumping and surreptitious sales of vaccines.
Apart from that, members of the public had also highlighted the weakness of the digital system developed for the purpose of the NIP despite costing RM70 million to set up.
The JKJAV website had received a barrage of criticism after it went through frequent downtimes as a result of overwhelming sign-ins by the rakyat vying for vaccine slots, especially during the AstraZeneca voluntary opt-in period.
More critically, the government, in its bid to contain the Covid-19 pandemic albeit rather deliberately, had announced several rounds of allocations to buy vaccines purportedly for the people which include having to tap into the National Trust Fund (KWAN).
According to a MalaysiaKini report: Kwan’s money can be spent for development purposes and the granting of loans to governments, as per Section 6(a) and (b) of the National Trust Fund Act 1988.
It reported that KWAN’s funds had only been tapped once — for the financing of Projek Malaysia Wetland Sanctuary in Ulu Langat, year unknown, costing some RM42 million.
On April 21, 2021, the PN government gazetted the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 which included a new Section 6(c), allowing KWAN’s money to be used for vaccine procurement.
The new subsection (c) 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”.