KUCHING: The Sarawak government has denied it had not provided any official feedback to the federal government with regards to the proposed RM1 billion loan offer for the repairs of dilapidated schools in the state.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said that the Sarawak government had in fact responded through Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik and sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) regarding the matter.
“We responded to Maszlee. We also sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance,” Abang Johari told reporters when met after officiating the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Satok branch Raya gathering here in Kpg Segedup last night.
This came after a MoF statement yesterday which said that the federal government had agreed in principle to partially accept the RM1 billion loan repayment from the Sarawak government and that it would be subject to prescribed legal mechanisms, but that the federal government had yet to receive a response from the Sarawak government.
However, Abang Johari was cautious to answer reporters’ questions about the four legal mechanisms stipulated in the MoF statement.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen the details yet. It’s not fair for me to comment on that because I have not read it yet,” Abang Johari stated.
In its statement, MoF also insisted that the Sarawak still owed as much as RM2.375 billion to the federal government, and if the RM1 billion was repaid, the Sarawak government would still owe the federal government RM1.375 billion.
“The prescribed legal mechanism is like the following: Firstly the Sarawak government must repay up to RM1 billion from the total debt to the federal government into the Consolidated Fund of the Federal Government. This is in line with the provisions of the law and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
“Secondly, the federal government will channel the same amount as an allocation for use for the repair projects of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.
“Thirdly, the repair works of the schools in Sarawak should be offered by open tender, to ensure transparency and value for money based on current federal government financial arrangements (tatacara).
“Fourthly, the federal government is willing to consider the priority of the Sarawak government in determining the schools to be repaired,” the statement read.
The ministry also clarified that the proposal of the Sarawak government using loan repayments to repair dilapidated schools, was in fact like getting advance money from the federal government.
This is because it involved funds which was previously lent to the Sarawak government.
“If it is deemed as repayment of loans to the federal government, it means the RM1 billion are funds owned by the federal government itself, and to be used to repair schools in Sarawak.
“The federal government’s stand on the method of dilapidated school repairs in Sarawak as stated in the above four cases has been explained to the Sarawak government during a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on March 11, 2019 and followed by a letter dated March 20, 2019.
“However,until now no official feedback has been received from the Sarawak government,” the statement concluded.