KUCHING, Aug 26: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has clarified that works to fix dilapidated schools in Sarawak have started since August 5.
Lim in a statement today denied that a committee needed to be set up in order for the works to commerce.
He said four special committees have already been set up by the federal government for the implementation and monitoring of the project since March 19, 2019, contrary to the claim of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that the federal government’s insistence that such committees should be set up first.
“We are disappointed with his (Abang Johari) statement which discredited the federal government’s effort to implement the project quickly.
“In fact, the RM350 million paid by the state government was only received on August 8. The Finance Ministry has issued a letter to the Ministry of Education on August 5 to allow the ministry to carry out preliminary works to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak,” said Lim.
He said on August 14, his ministry issued a second letter to the Education Ministry informing that Sarawak had paid Rm350 million, and requested the Education Ministry to take immediate action to implement the first phase of the project to fix Sarawak’s dilapidated schools.
“The federal government made an exception in approving the Sarawak Government’s application for the project to be monitored by the Works Department and to give priority to local Sarawak contractors,” said Lim.
He said a Project Implementation Directive Letter had been given to the Works Department Director General for the work to be carried out immediately.
The state Works Department had identified seven schools and the tender was advertised on August 26, while the remaining 30 projects are expected to be tendered out by the end of October 2019.
As per statement by the Finance Ministry on July 22, 2019, the federal government is committed to ensure the works to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak to be done immediately with the allocation of RM350 million for the first phase.
Lim said the proposal by the state government to use the loan payment to fix the dilapidated schools was considered advanced payment by the federal government, and as such the RM350 million or the total RM1 billion loan is federal government’s money.
As such, he said the state government should have realised that implementation of this project should follow procedure, and the state government should have find out first before making assumptions which may confuse the rakyat.
“It is unfair for the Sarawak government to accuse the federal government that we are late in handling this matter when in fact the contrary,” said Lim. — DayakDaily