No U-turn in using RM1 bil on Sarawak school repairs, state told

Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen says Putrajaya wants proper accounting principles to be followed to ensure transparency and open tenders when using the RM1 billion to repair schools. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A DAP assemblyman has rubbished a Sarawak minister’s allegation against Putrajaya for making a U-turn on the repair of dilapidated schools in the state.

Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, in reply to a question by See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang) at the Sarawak assembly today, said Putrajaya had in principle agreed that the Sarawak government’s RM1 billion debt with the federal government could be used to upgrade the dilapidated schools in the state.

He said the issue had reached a “deadlock” because the Sarawak government wanted to spend the money according to its way.

“This is against financial procedures. You cannot just set off payment like that without paying to the consolidated account,” he said.

Chong, who is also deputy domestic trade and consumer affairs minister, said although the money is from the Sarawak government, it is still considered as a federal grant because it is the state government’s debt against Putrajaya.

“We want more transparency in the spending of the government’s money. We want all these projects to be carried out via an open tender system.

“You can’t just be spending the money the way you want and sending us an invoice stating that you have spent the RM1 billion and deducting the amount of your debts. No government will agree to that.”

Chong said the Sarawak government must realise that this is a new government and there must be transparency when it comes to spending.

In April, Putrajaya had 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.

Instead, the federal government had requested the state government to make an “advance payment” for the repair works.