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COVID vaccines

Malaysia defends tapping oil-backed fund to buy COVID vaccines

Finance minister says there is 'no choice' as Najib and others blast move

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, on April 26.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's government says its "tight" finances require special measures to fund expenditures, after coming under fire for tapping a reserve trust fund backed by state energy company Petroliam Nasional (Petronas) to pay for COVID-19 vaccines.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on Monday told reporters there is nothing inappropriate about the move to draw roughly 5 billion ringgit ($1.22 billion) from the National Trust Fund, a dedicated reserve for future development created in 1998.

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