By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR (April 25)--Dipping into the 16.9 billion billion ringgit National Trust Fund (KWAN) is the result of poor management of the economy by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, a Pejuang central committee member said on Sunday.

Tariq Ismail Mustafa questioned whether the national budget passed by PN last year was based on political needs instead of preparing to face risks confronting the economy during the pandemic, in a statement.

He said the decision to use the fund, ostensibly for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, was the result of poor management of the economy by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, and was something that could have been avoided, he said in a statement.

“There’s no reason to touch KWAN funds if all the economic stimulus packages were well thought out before they were announced.The government should have been able to anticipate the risks and economic effects of the pandemic, and formulate strategic measures early on to offset expected shortfalls.

“Instead, a lot of government spending is used on accommodating 70 cabinet members and their staff,” he said.

Tariq, a former Bersatu Supreme Council member, also hit out at Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan for comparing KWAN with the Employee Provident Fund yesterday.

Stating that KWAN funds are held in trust for alternative financing of national development, Tariq said the fund enables revenue to be invested prudently and not misused except for reasons agreed upon at the Dewan Rakyat.

“In terms of accounting principles, it is an ‘accounting provision’ for certain projects where funds are allocated and invested to ensure project financing is not affected,” he said. “It is not a government savings account like how the EPF is a form of savings for employees.”

KWAN was set up in 1988 to raise government savings and provide alternative financing for development expenditures. The fund had assets worth RM17.4 billion as of end-2018, according to the latest publicly available KWAN financial accounts.

Bank Negara Malaysia is the administrator of the fund while all contributions have so far come from the national oil company, Petronas.

The government approved amendments to the National Trust Fund (KWAN) Act 1988 (Act 339) on Tuesday to allow money from the fund to procure vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines.

Evoking the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to make the amendment, the move has been met with strong opposition as critics raised concerns about the plan’s impact on future savings.