KUALA LUMPUR: Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has rubbished allegations that the government had exhausted the entire RM3bil of its allocation to purchase vaccines from pharmaceutical company Pfizer that could only cover 20% of the population.
He said that the RM3bil budget for Covid-19 vaccines will cover all expenses including transportation and storage.
"Based on the statement purportedly made by the Gua Musang MP that went viral recently, I can categorically state in the Dewan Rakyat that it is baseless and not accurate at all.
"I cannot reveal the full cost procurement with Pfizer because it is under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
"But our agreement with Pfizer and Covax is still way within our reach of RM3bil for 70% of the population," he said in his winding up speech for his ministry under Budget 2021 on Monday (Dec 7).
Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had asked the government to reveal the full cost of purchasing the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer, including the cost of storage and logistics.
The senior Umno lawmaker had questioned if Malaysia is rushing into a deal to purchase 12.8 million doses that would only cover 6.4 million people or 20% of the population.
"The RM3bil is an overall price to include everything such as procurement, storage and transport, ” said Khairy.
Khairy said the government has also no intention to control any private companies to discuss with any international vaccine manufacturers in order to be their agents or distributors.
"We cannot control any of them from making any commercial arrangements with the international manufacturers.
"However, if they cannot get the approval from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, under the Health Ministry, they will not be able to bring the vaccines into Malaysia," he said.
"On behalf of the government, Mosti and the Health Ministry, we cannot stop the companies that actually have no links with the medical or logistic, they may try to pivot to other industries.
"But I would like to remind the market investors, the announcement does not mean that they get the government's procurement approval," he added.
So far the government procurement only involves Covax (10% of the population) and Pfizer (20% of the population) that were done directly with them respectively without any third parties, said Khairy.
He said the government had directly dealt with the companies at the ex-factory price given by the companies without any additional cost.
The Dewan Rakyat approved RM935mil for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation under Budget 2021.
It was passed by voice vote, making the 14th ministry to have its budget approved at the committee stage.
Source: The Star Online