KUCHING, July 23: The Sarawak government is ever ready to repay its loan but the Ministry of Education (MoE) may not have sufficient time to secure the funds from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to implement the repair of dilapidated schools this year, according to Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol.
He was responding to Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng’s statement revealing that the federal government was ready to extend RM350 million to Sarawak provided that the state government pays back its loan of the same amount.
“Whilst Lim wanted to remind us about our RM2.352 billion loan to the federal (government), I also wish to remind him that the National Auditor-General’s Report showed that the Sarawak government never defaulted its loan repayment to the federal government,” Abdullah said via a press release today.
“Sarawak is amongst the top performing state in term of financial management thus getting high international rating.”
He emphasised that Lim eight days ago aknowledged that the Sarawak government has agreed to the four criteria imposed by the MoF for the purpose of securing funding for dilapidated schools in Sarawak from the federal government.
“I was made to understand that following this agreed arrangement, there were administrative discussions between officers from the state government, MoE and MoF to finalise a few details,” he explained.
The Sarawak government, he emphasised, has all the intentions to fullfil and abide with all the agreed criteria so as not to drag or delay the dilapidated schools issue any longer.
“We are sincere and seriously care about improving the infrastructural condition of our schools,” he said.
For all intents and purposes, mutual understanding and cooperation between the relevant ministries and agencies must be cordial so that project implementations to improve dilapidated schools in Sarawak can be expedited, Abdullah emphasised.
“Tasteless political statement is unnecessary when addressing critical public concern such as education,” he added.
“Lim should also disclose that all states in Malaysia have loans with the federal government. Perhaps he should also put some extra effort in chasing after the loan repayment from other states so that the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government has enough funds to fulfill its promises,” he opined.
Noting that MoE has been quite reasonable in its discussions and negotiations with the state government, Abdullah however expressed doubt over the relationship and communications between MoE and MoF.
“I can’t help but to assume that other federal ministries such as Ministry of Works is also having problems securing funding from MoF. No wonder the ministry was not able to announce anything big for Sarawak,” he added. — DayakDaily