Rehabilitation of Sarawak's decrepit schools: MOF dismisses CM's statement as erroneous

Last update: 26/08/2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Bernama) -- Rehabilitation works on decrepit schools in Sarawak commenced with urgency on Aug 5.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in stating so today, dismissed as erroneous and deplorable, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Johari Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg's claim that he (Lim) had insisted on setting up a committee before any work could be carried out.

In fact, Lim said, four special committees at federal government level to implement and monitor the projects were set up on March 19 this year.

He said the chief minister's statement was deplorable as it belittled the federal government's efforts to execute and accelerate the rehabilitation projects in consideration of the Sarawak state government's request and requirement.

Although the repayment of about RM350 million from the state government was only received on Aug 8, 2019, Lim said the finance ministry had already issued a letter on Aug 5, 2019 allowing the Education Ministry to implement the school rehabilitation projects. 

“On Aug 14, 2019, the finance ministry issued another letter to the education ministry with regard to the repayment made by the Sarawak state government and asking it to expedite the first phase of the project.

“The federal government also relented to the Sarawak state government's request for the project to be monitored by the state Public Works Department (PWD) and that priority for the projects be given to local contractors," Lim said in a statement.

He said the federal government further left the matter of selecting the schools to the state government. 

According to him, the ministry issued a project implementation authorisation letter to the Works director-general to enable the state PWD to start the project as soon as possible.

He said Sarawak PWD had identified seven schools that could be advertised for tender on Aug 26 while another 30 projects were expected to be tendered out at the end of October, 2019.

"As announced in the finance ministry's media release dated July 22, 2019, the federal government is committed to expediting the procurement process and spending up to RM350 million for the first phase of the project to rehabilitate decrepit schools in Sarawak as soon as the state government repays the debt," he said.

Lim said the finance ministry wished to make it clear that the state government's proposal to utilise the repayment for rehabilitation of the schools was actually a deposit from the federal government as it involved use of funds that were lent to the state government. 

“Since it is a repayment to the federal government, it means the fund of RM1 billion or RM350 million is actually the federal government's own money that is used to rehabilitate the schools in Sarawak.

“The Sarawak state government must realise that the project implementation process must adhere to procedures. It should verify its information before issuing statements and not make baseless accusations so as not to confuse the people," Lim added.