Sarawak CM says Putrajaya has reneged on agreement to repair dilapidated schools in state

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari said the first repayment of RM350 million was made last year, while another RM350 million was paid on February 7 this year. — Bernama pic
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari said the first repayment of RM350 million was made last year, while another RM350 million was paid on February 7 this year. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, Feb 18 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari today accused Putrajaya of reneging on an agreement to fix dilapidated schools in Sarawak with money drawn from the early repayment of loans owed by the state government to the federal government.

“Not even a single (dilapidated) school has been repaired, although we have settled RM700 million of our loans in advance,” he said in his speech at the state-level “Kolokium Keagungan Al-Quran” here.

He said the first repayment of RM350 million was made last year, while another RM350 million was paid on February 7 this year.

“We kept part of our bargain under the agreement, but the federal government did not,” he said.

“We agreed to pay our loans with the federal government well in advance. The federal government actually has to give the loans because it is provided for under the Federal Constitution and they collect taxes from us,” he said.

Abang Johari also expressed regret that the state Public Works Department has been replaced with the federal Public Works Department as the implementing agency for the rehabilitation of dilapidated schools.

At a recent press conference, state Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin expressed hope that the state PWD could be appointed as the implementing agency, that all tendering would be done through the Federal Tender Board in Sarawak, and that only contractors based in Sarawak were awarded the contracts.

He wanted money to be given directly to the state PWD for the efficient management of the fund and speedy implementation of the project.

Last July, the state government agreed to the four prescribed legal mechanisms on the methods to repair the dilapidated schools in Sarawak in a discussion between Abang Johari and then education minister Maszlee Malik.

An official letter was sent to the Finance Ministry on the acceptance of the legal mechanisms.

Abang Johari then said the state government agreed to the four legal mechanisms that firstly, the Sarawak government must repay up to RM1 billion from its total debt to the federal government into the Federal Government Consolidated Fund in accordance with the law and the Federal Constitution.

Secondly, the federal government would channel the same amount as repaid by the state government to projects to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

Thirdly, the repair work should be offered by open tender, to ensure transparency and fair value based on the current federal government financial arrangements.

Fourthly, the federal government was willing to take into account the priority of the Sarawak government in determining the schools to be repaired.

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