LUNDU, Aug 25 – Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today asked Putrajaya to immediately start fixing dilapidated schools in Sarawak in the interest of students and teachers.
He said the state government has not received any indication from the federal government when it would start the repair work of these schools, despite the state government paying back Putrajaya the first package of RM350 million out of RM1 billion meant to be used exclusively to fix dilapidated schools in the state.
“We have settled our part of the bargain by making the first payment as demanded by Putrajaya, but now, we are still waiting for them to do their part,” Abang Johari answered when asked by a school teacher at a town hall session here.
The chief minister said the state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government must set aside their political differences, but instead to cooperate to fix run-down schools in Sarawak.
Abang Johari, who is also the state finance and economic planning minister, also maintained the state does not have any debts with the federal government.
“But we agree to settle our loans in advance as we have been promised that the federal government would use the money to repair these schools,” he said.
He said the state government has been prompt in paying its loans to the federal government, pointing out that under the Federal Constitution, Putrajaya is obliged to give grants and loans to all the states in Malaysia.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had previously urged the Sarawak government to settle the first package of RM350 million out of RM1 billion with Putrajaya first, after which the money would be disburse back to the state government to repair dilapidated schools in the state.
He had said the RM1 billion would be part of a loan settlement from state government which still owed Putrajaya RM2.352 as of June 30 this year.
Lim had also said that Putrajaya had agreed in principle to accept the RM1 billion loan payment by the state government for the repair of dilapidated schools in the state, subject to legal mechanisms.
Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin had said his ministry submitted a list of 37 critically dilapidated schools to Putrajaya for immediate repair work to be done.
The state ministry had listed 1,020 schools as dilapidated, including 415 which were considered as critical.