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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Feb 22: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing today suggested that the remaining RM1.5 billion federal loan be used exclusively for Sarawak to build infrastructure projects, especially the three major bridges in which the allocation had been shelved by Putrajaya.
He opined that since a new modus operandi had been achieved when the federal government recently approved RM1 billion from the RM2.5 billion loan to be used exclusively for Sarawak to repair its dilapidated schools, it would, therefore, be logical to carry on with this arrangement by approving the remaining RM1.5 billion loan for infrastructure.
“The Sarawak government is very grateful to the federal government for allowing us to use the loan repayment of RM1 billion to build our dilapidated schools.
“And since we have established this modus operandi to utilise the loan repayment exclusively for Sarawak, I would also like to suggest that the remaining loan of RM1.5 billion be used for infrastructure projects in Sarawak, especially for the three major bridges, where the allocation of RM1 billion has been cancelled,” Masing told DayaDaily today.
The three bridges that were approved by the previous federal government but had since been scrapped by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration are the RM1 billion Batang Lupar Bridge, the RM300 million Batang Igan Bridge and the RM130 million Batang Rambungan Bridge.
During the reign of the Barisan Nasional government, the federal government agreed to fully bear the cost of constructing the Igan and Rambungan bridges and equally share the cost of constructing the Batang Lupar Bridge with the state government.
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, was commenting on Wednesday’s announcement by the Ministry of Education, where RM1 billion from the state’s loan would be used to repair dilapidated schools in the state.
“A joint committee consisting of both the federal and state agencies will be formed soon. But the implementing agency will be the state JKR (Public Works Department).
“And as the minister-in-charge of JKR Sarawak, we will ensure that the repair and rebuilding of our dilapidated schools will be based on open tender and be transparent,” he assured. — DayakDaily