Sarawak to pump in own money to fix run-down schools in state’s north, says chief minister

Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said Sarawak’s NRDA will channel funds to repair 56 dilapidated schools in the area. — Bernama pic

LAWAS, Feb 22 — Sarawak’s Northern Region Development Authority (NRDA) will channel funds to repair 56 dilapidated schools in the area, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said today.

He said tenders for repair works on these schools will be called soon.

“We can’t wait for funds to come from the central government, even though we have made early repayment amounting to RM700 million of our loans owed to the federal government,” he said at the launch of the Agriculture Transformation and Entrepreneurship Exhibition here.

He said Sarawak has the financial resources not because it is rich, but because the state government manages its finances in accordance with the established procedures.

He said the state government has to step in to help fix the schools because it does not want the rural students to suffer due to lack of educational facilities and poor conditions.

“Now, we are having problems with the central government. First, they agreed to fix dilapidated schools if Sarawak made early repayment of our loans owed to the federal government.

“That was the promise made by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“If that was the case, I said then we settle the loans in advance. So we settled RM350 million in the first tranche, with conditions that 37 dilapidated schools be redeveloped. That was last year,” he said.

He said the second repayment of RM350 million was made this month.

“After giving the money, no repair was done until today,” he said.

In his speech at the same function, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said NRDA has been allocated RM1.5 billion for rural transformation projects, including roads, water and electricity supplies, this year and next year, in the northern region of Sarawak.

“Other projects include agriculture, aquaculture, education and tourism,” Awang Tengah, who is also NRDA chairman, said.

He added contracts to implement these projects will be called and then awarded soon.

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