KUCHING: The federal funds for the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway will be a separate allocation for the benefit of Sarawak.
Works Minister Fadillah Yusof, who clarified this, said the allocation for this massive infrastructure project would not be subtracted from the annual infrastructure development budget under the current Malaysia Plan.
This clarification should come as welcome news for Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem and Opposition members who had been questioning the allocation.
In a statement today, Fadillah said the government would keep its promise to complete the Pan Borneo Highway.
The highway, which will span Sarawak and Sabah, is estimated to cost RM27 billion, with RM14.2 billion allocated to Sarawak. It is expected to be a catalyst to boost development in the state.
The project is being implemented under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016 to 2020).
Fadillah said the project would include the construction and upgrading of 779km of single carriageway roads to dual carriageway roads, as well as building and upgrading 115 bridges.
The construction of three rest and service areas are also part of this project.
The highway will be constructed via the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) model, which is similar to the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project in the Klang Valley.
Fadillah said more than 60 per cent of the construction cost of the highway will be funded through the issuance of sukuk by DanaInfra Nasional Berhad on the capital market and only RM5 billion will be funded through development expenditure.
When the state assembly last gathered in June, Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen had questioned whether the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway would divert funds from other development projects.
Adenan said in his winding-up speech that the cost of the highway project would be subtracted from the normal development funds for the state. Adenan added that the state government had initially expected the funds to be a separate allocation.
“In fact, you were saying (the) Federal Government is giving us with the right hand and taking away with the left hand,” Adenan was quoted as saying in the Hansard, in reply to Chong in his winding-up speech.
“Yes, I agree, but we were under the impression then that it will not be subtracted from the usual development funds. Only now do we know.
“I am pursuing this point. I want it to be over and above what they (Federal Government) usually provide for us,” Adenan said.
At a press conference last week, Chong had said Sarawakian voters “had been taken for a ride” after being promised by Barisan Nasional, ahead of the May 7 state election, that the highway would not come at an extra cost to the state’s development.
In the 11th Malaysia Plan, Sarawak is expected to receive between 7 per cent and 10 per cent of the national development fund annually.