Asst minister denies S'wak govt won't be transparent over RM1bil loan


KUCHING: A Sarawak assistant minister has refuted allegations that the state government will not be transparent on how it uses a RM1bil loan repayment to fund the repair of dilapidated schools in the state.

Education and Technological Research Assistant Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee said the state government had agreed with the federal government that three committees would be formed to oversee the implementation of the repair projects, if the loan repayment formula was used.

He said the committees would comprise the federal Finance and Education Ministries, as well as the state government.

"Even the state government does not have a final say on the list of schools (to be repaired). We can only submit it to the Education Ministry, and they will have the final say.

"So, there is no such thing as the allegation that we will use this money at our whims and fancies, or that we will do what we like with it," he said when replying a question from Paulus Palu Gumbang (GPS-Batu Danau) in the state legislative assembly on Friday (May 3).

On Thursday (May 2), Chong Chieng Jen (PH-Kota Sentosa) said the federal government did not make a u-turn on the repair of dilapidated schools, as claimed by the state government.

Chong said Putrajaya had agreed in principle that Sarawak could use RM1bil of its loan repayment to the federal government to repair dilapidated schools, but added that the issue was in a "deadlock" because the state government wanted to use the money however it liked.

However, Dr Annuar said there was no deadlock because the state government was still in negotiations with the federal government, particularly the Education Ministry, on the issue.

To a supplementary question, he said the state government was allocating about RM123mil of its own funds to relocate and repair 155 schools.

The amount comprises RM65mil for the relocation of SK Ulu Segan in Bintulu and SK Maludam in Betong, RM20mil to repair 63 schools under the state's rural transformation initiative from 2018 to 2020, and RM37mil under the Chief Minister's special development allocation fund involving 90 schools.

"In comparison, the federal government only approved RM100mil for dilapidated schools in Sarawak this year.

"It shows how serious the state government is about dilapidated schools," Dr Annuar said.