Proposed RM1 bil ‘contra payment’ already discussed, says Sarawak CM

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has already discussed with the federal government through Education Minister Maszlee Malik the proposed RM1 billion contra loan to be allocated to repair dilapidated schools in the state, said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.

He said the arrangement to offer the RM1 billion as contra payment for the state’s debt of some RM2.4 billion had been agreed in principle by both parties.

“We have also sent a letter to the finance ministry,” he told reporters at the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Satok Gawai Raya event at Kampung Segedup here last night.

Commenting on a statement by the ministry yesterday that the state government had yet to provide any official feedback to the federal governmen, Abang Johari said he had not been notified of any changes in the initial agreement with Maszlee during their meeting last May.

He said he had yet to see the details of the four prescribed legal mechanisms by the ministry on the proposal for the Sarawak government to utilise the contra loan repayment to repair the dilapidated schools.

In the statement, the ministry said the federal government’s stand on the repairs of the dilapidated schools through four legal mechanisms had been explained to the Sarawak government during a meeting at the ministry on March 11.

It said this was followed by a letter dated March 20.

First, it said, the Sarawak government must repay up to RM1 billion from its total debt to the federal government into the Federal Government Consolidated Fund in accordance with the law and the Federal Constitution.

Second, the federal government will channel the same amount as repaid by the state government as allocation for use to repair the schools.

Third, the repair works should be offered by open tender to ensure transparency and fair value based on the current federal government financial arrangements.

Fourth, the federal government is willing to take into account the priority of the Sarawak government in determining the schools to be repaired.