Sarawak pleads with Finance Ministry for RM1b to fix state's rundown schools

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin speaking to reporters in Kuching July 2, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin speaking to reporters in Kuching July 2, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, July 2 — The Sarawak government hopes the federal Finance Ministry will immediately approve RM1 billion in funds as proposed by the Education Ministry (MoE) to repair the dilapidated schools in Malaysia’s largest state.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said repair works on dilapidated schools can start immediately once the MoE has approval.

“Education Minister Dr Mazslee Malik and his ministry officials came to see us on April 24, 2019 with the proposals that the RM1 billion to fix dilapidated schools be parked in a special account or vote and to be monitored by a tripartite committee consisting of the MoE, MoF and state government.

“MoE also proposed that an agreement be signed between the federal and state government to ensure that the RM1 billion was spent only on dilapidated schools in Sarawak, that procurement process to be managed by the state Federal Tender board and that the state Public Works Department be made the implementing agency.

“We agreed to these proposals, but unfortunately, there has been no word yet from MoF,” Manyin told reporters after opening a Leadership and Management Workshop for secondary principals from throughout the state here.

He said the MoE came up with the proposals after state government’s proposal was rejected by MoF.

Manyin said the state government’s proposal was conveyed to Maszlee in a meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg in February.

“In the meeting, the chief minister proposed to repay RM1 billion of the state government’s outstanding loan to the federal government as contra payment for the repair of dilapidated schools in Sarawak,” he said, adding Mazslee agreed to the state government’s proposal.

Manyin said Sarawak’s proposal, however, was shot down by MoF which wanted RM1 billion to be paid into the Consolidated Fund as advance payment, and that the disbursement to be made through an annual budget.

He said the state government did not agree with the conditions imposed by MoF, saying that the process was too long before the allocation for repair works is received.

“First, the money will have to be paid to Consolidated Fund, then it goes to Economic Planning Unit and then the Parliament has to allocate the budget from this fund for whatever purposes,” he said, adding that there is no guarantee that the RM1 billion paid would be fully allocated for dilapidated schools.

He said he does not know what stops MoF from giving the approval.

He said the state government is ready to release RM300 million this year, RM300 million next year and RM400 million in 2021, if MoF has given its approval.

He said 415 rural schools are really in dilapidated conditions that need to be fixed urgently.

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