‘Appoint Sarawakian contractors to avoid misuse of funds’

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

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KUCHING, Nov 10: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian agrees with Assistant Corporate Affairs Minister Abdullah Saidol that the federal government ought to stop appointing Peninsular-based contractors to implement projects in the state.

He asserted that Sarawakian contractors should be appointed directly as in cases where West Malaysian contractors were appointed, the projects became Ali Baba projects.

“In those cases, as much as 40 per cent of the contract sum was skimmed off by the time the projects were sub-contracted to Sarawakians. Sarawakian contractors and project consultants must be appointed for all the works from now on.

“I urge the Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) to ask for this RM1 billion to be disbursed to Sarawak without delay so that we can get started on the repair and rebuilding.

“Otherwise it will be another case of empty promises and lip service from the federal BN (Barisan Nasional) government,” said Baru, who is state PKR chairman while debating on State Budget 2018 at the State Legislative Assembly today.

He also agreed with Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin that the federal government’s allocation of RM1 billion for the repair of dilapidated schools over two years is not enough if Sarawak intends to rebuild all 415 critically dilapidated schools out of the 1,020 dilapidated schools identified.

“In 2014, the federal government also announced an additional budget of RM1 billion to repair dilapidated schools.

“In last year’s budget, RM570mil was allocated to rebuild ‘destitute’ schools in the country and to upgrade science laboratories. How much of these announced budgets were in fact disbursed to Sarawak?” questioned Baru.

On the state budget, he applauded the government for allocating 53 per cent as development expenditure for rural areas.

“On improving connectivity, the RM409 million is earmarked mostly for building bridges, and I was disappointed to note that no mention was made of better roads for the highlands and interior of Sarawak.

“The Chief Minister noted that one of the contributors to the expected higher revenue for 2018 is hill timber premium. It is truly a bitter pill for the people of the rural highlands that their forests are contributing to the coffers of the government, but their needs are receiving little attention in return,” he said. — DayakDaily