KUCHING: The Works Ministry is awaiting a decision by the Finance Ministry and Economic Affairs Ministry whether to reimburse the state government for the costs of building the Batang Igan, Batang Rambungan and Batang Lupar bridges.
Works Minister Baru Bian, said that two months ago, the state government submitted a proposal requesting the federal government to make the reimbursements, and he had already forwarded the proposal to the two ministries.
“So far, the decision has not been made yet,” he told a press conference at his Christmas and New Year Open House at MBKS Community Hal yesterday.
The three bridges were supposed to have been fully funded by the Barisan Nastional (BN) government, and then they were postponed by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. The state government, therefore, has decided to pay for the projects.
The BN was supposed to have fully financed the Batang Rambungan and Batang Igan bridges and half the cost of Batang Lupar bridge.
In response to that, Baru said if the Sarawak government was capable of financing the bridges, that would be very good.
He then explained that the federal government had to put the building of the bridges on hold due to the current financial constraints.
“Due to the delay, some have accused me of not fighting hard enough for Sarawak. The people need to look at the different perspectives.
“When we took over the government, the country was facing financial constraints. We then decided to put some projects on hold as we needed to be prudent in our spending,” he said.
He said the country had debts up to RM1 trillion, and therefore the federal government has taken careful measures in its spending.
“Small things are being politicised, so I hope the people understand what the federal government is saying and doing. We need to be wise in spending public funds. We cannot just simply pluck money from nowhere and build projects.”
He said the state government should not forget that the federal government was still financing the RM6-billion Pan Borneo Highway project.
• See also story on Page 6 New Sarawak Tribune Paper 7/1/2019