Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wong Soon Koh: 'No' to use of state's reserves for improvement of schools

DUN 26 Nov 2013

Menteri Kewangan II (Y.B. Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh): Tuan Speaker, to the issue raised by the Honourable Member for Ba‟kelalan whereby he proposed to utilise the State reserve to provide basic educational facilities for our schools. As Yang Berhormat for Ba‟kelalan is fully aware, education is one of the subject matters under the purview of the Federal government and such it should be brought up to the Federal authority and be dealt with accordingly by the Federal government. The Federal government has been providing allocation on yearly basis to address the needs of rural schools as highlighted by Ahli Yang Berhormat for Ba‟kelalan. Provision for such facilities is not only confine to his constituency but to all constituencies throughout the State.

As Ahli Yang Berhormat may recall in the Budget Speech presented by Yang Amat Berhormat Ketua Menteri that the State would seek for more funds from the Federal government for development including the basic infrastructure, facilities and amenities particularly for our rural areas throughout the State. We are not just looking at education alone as other matters such as security and healthcare are equally important to the State.

In this respect, the State government will continue to engage with Federal government to provide additional funds to address our needs in respect of education, healthcare, rural water and electricity supplies. However, we need to understand that these tasks are not easy as the State is of huge land mass with challenging terrain; and provision has to be made in phases and based on priorities.

As for the state, we have our responsibility and our priorities that require the utilization of our financial resources. It has always been our policy to exercise resource allocation in a balanced manner that will continue to build up our financial reserve and at the same time strengthening the State‟s long-term financial resilience to face any external headwinds or in time of financial crisis.

Tuan Speaker, i would like to reiterate that we should not use the basis of our healthy reserve which we have worked so hard to build over the past years to finance responsibilities beyond purview. If we start to work along this basis, the State would stretch too far and beyond its financial limit and capacity. Eventually, the state may face financial distress that will adversely impact us and our future generations. On the issue raised by several Ahli Yang Berhormat for the Oppositions, particularly Ahli Yang Berhormat from Kota Sentosa relating to the subject matter which have yet to be adjudicated by the High Court in the defamation action by the government of Sarawak and the State Financial Authority against the Honourable Member of Kota Sentosa should not be raised and discussed in this august House. Any related issues raised on the subject matter is sub-judice.

~ Unedited Hansard

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