DAP has urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to urgently inject RM45 bil to top up the RM65 bil COVID-19 Fund, which has nearly been exhausted after having only RM8.6 bil left to spend for the second half of 2021 as compared to the RM18.4 bil already spent for the first half of the year.
“More funds are needed to battle COVID-19, especially accelerating vaccination, implementing mass test screening of Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support plus vaccination (FTTIS+V) as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
This is also to ensure that the hospitals and health services are fully manned and funded with sufficient ICU beds, medicines and facilities to care for sick patients.
“Of particular concern is that our health system is on the verge of breaking point, if not collapsed completely, with many hospitals left unable to cope or even to ensure physical distancing to prevent infections,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 9).
The Finance Ministry had revealed that a total of RM18.4 bil – RM9.1 bil in 1Q 2021 and RM9.3 bil in 2Q 2021 – was used in the first half of the year.
“With the RM38 bil used in 2020, this meant that the total spent under the COVID-19 fund amounts to RM56.4 bil.
“This leaves only RM8.6 bil left from the RM65 bil COVID-19 Fund for the remaining six months of 2021, less than 50% of the RM18.4 bil spent for the first six months of the year.
“In other words, only RM27 bil will be spent in 2021 as compared to RM38 bil in 2020 on battling COVID-19 and providing financial aid,” the Bagan MP pointed out.
Furthermore, with the COVID-19 situation now worse in the second half than in the first half of the year despite the Emergency and a series of movement control orders (MCOs), more funds are required for the remaining six months of the year.
“On top of the RM500 bil in economic losses since the first MCO was imposed last year, the economy is in an even more vulnerable position with many businesses and jobs in jeopardy from the several total lockdowns.”
The idea to inject an additional RM45 bil to the existing COVID-19 Fund was nothing new and was in fact mooted by former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Aug 13.
Back then, Muhyiddin had made plans to increase the ceiling for the COVID-19 Fund if he survives an upcoming confidence vote in Parliament.
“This increase will help meet additional needs in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis in terms of strengthening the health care system, improving assistance to the people and supporting business continuity,” he said via a live telecast. – Sept 9, 2021.