The Star Online

By ZALINAH NOORDIN

PETALING JAYA: Restructuring efforts of the water services industry in Selangor should not be a money-making process, said Bar Council vice-president Ragunath Kesavan.

Instead, the State Government and the Federal Government should seek ways to resolve the matter in the best interest of the public. He was referring to the 37percent tariff hike should the issue not be settled before March 31.

“Both parties must sit down and discuss this, as the most important thing is whether they can provide the best service at the best cost,” he said.

Kesavan said that the public should be involved in the whole process. He added that when the industry was privatised, there was no proper tender system and this had led to the current disarray.

“The Federal Government, not the State Government, should have led the negotiations for the re-nationalisation of the water assets from the start.

“This is how it’s done in most other states that have embarked on this venture, like Malacca and Negri Sembilan,” he said.

The current situation leaves either consumers burdened with a higher water bill in such difficult times or the State Government pays some RM38mil a month to compensate the concessionaires, he said.

The four concessionaires; Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd, Syarikan Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd and Konsortium ABBAS Sdn Bhd also have different takes on the matter.

The first three companies had rejected the state’s offer of RM4.6bil for all the water assets owned by them citing it was too low an offer.

Meanwhile, PJ Utara MP Tony Pua, who is also a member of Selangor’s Water Review Panel, shared the same view on the general unawareness of the public in Selangor regarding the water issue.

“They should be made aware of the situation and they too should take note as it will affect them should there be an increase in their bills,” he said.

He added that the review panel would hold more briefing sessions in various areas of Selangor to disseminate information on the issue.

“Their opinions should also be accounted for as they are the ones who will have to live with the changes,” added Pua.

According to him, by the end of 2013, water tariffs in Selangor could be decreased as much as 25% if the state took over the water industry.

Not only would the 20 cubic metres of free water remain but there would be a 10% decrease in tariff this year.

This would be followed by a 20% decrease in the second term in 2011, and a further 25% decrease during the third term in 2013.

“Look at Penang. We should really emulate them as it has one of the lowest water rates in the country and the State Government is running the show,” he said.

Pua said that the Federal Government’s offer to buy over all the water assets from the four water concessionaires in Selangor shows that they only have sympathy for the concessionaires and not the Selangor people.

“Of course their reason would be that the companies have invested billions of ringgit in providing water supply in Selangor and not doing well but what about people having to pay more?” claimed Pua.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/3/1/nation/20090301162152&sec=nation

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