Putrajaya turns down Sarawak’s RM1 bil loan offer to repair schools

The Sarawak government says Education Minister Maszlee Malik had agreed in February the RM1 billion loan would be used to upgrade dilapidated schools in the state. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: Putrajaya has turned down the Sarawak government’s offer of a RM1 billion loan meant for repairing dilapidated schools in the state.

The money was to have been repaid against the state government’s existing debt with the federal government.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin said the federal government had instead requested the state government to make an “advance payment” for the repair works.

“However, we are not sure if they would use the advance payment to upgrade the dilapidated schools,” he said when met after the Reng College scholarship award presentation ceremony here today.

Manyin said Education Minister Maszlee Malik had agreed in February that the RM1 billion loan would be used to upgrade dilapidated schools in the state.

He said the state government was in the midst of setting up a joint committee with the education ministry and the Sarawak State Education Department to work on the project when it was told that Putrajaya had rejected the agreement.

“We need to negotiate again and I will be meeting Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg to discuss what to do next,” he said.

Manyin also said Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching should not be asking the Sarawak government to release funds to repair schools because education is under the federal government’s purview.

“They should be the one releasing the money. This is just an offer from the state government,” he said.

However, he said he is not critical of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government on the issue because ministers from the previous Barisan Nasional government had also visited the state and were aware of the poor condition of the schools.

“They all expressed their sympathy but they forgot about it after leaving the state.

“We hope the PH government will do things differently and reconsider its decision,” he said.