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Sarawak mulls using federal loans to offset school repairs bill

Second Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh (2nd right) said the suggestion needs further study. — Picture by Sulok TawieSecond Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh (2nd right) said the suggestion needs further study. — Picture by Sulok TawieKUCHING, Oct 9 — The Sarawak Cabinet has discussed a suggestion to use soft loans from the federal government to offset the costs of repairing or replacing dilapidated, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said today.

He said the suggestion raised by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg needed further study as it involves accounting procedures.

“The chief minister has said that the state government would repair schools first, and if the federal is unable to pay us, then we will contra,” Wong told reporters on the sidelines of the 4th Sarawak Business and Investment summit here.

He expressed hope this would not be necessary, as he believed that the federal government will fund the repairs and construction.

Separately, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali said the chief minister met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Putrajaya today, where they discussed this issue, among others.

“The state government wants these dilapidated schools to be repaired or construction of completely building new ones to be expedited,” he told reporters after opening of the 4th Sarawak Business and Investment Summit on behalf of the chief minister.

He said the state government is serious about providing better infrastructures for schools in Sarawak by committing RM1 billion from the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBoS) as costs to repair the schools and put up new school buildings.

Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said recently that out 1,454 primary and secondary schools in Sarawak, 1,020 were deemed to be in bad conditions including 415 categorised as critically dilapidated.

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