PUTRAJAYA: For those already swamped by mounting bills, news that six states are planning to raise water rates is a big nay.
“The price of other goods have not gone down and now I hear that the water tariff may go up,” said civil servant Mohd Ariff Zakaria, 38.He said he was disheartened over the possibility of having to fork out more for living expenses.
“Maybe the government has their justification, but I feel that they should consider the burden families have to face,” said the father of two.
On Wednesday, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said six states had agreed to increase the water tariff in line with the government’s efforts to restructure the water supply services industry.
He did not name the states.
According to the National Water Services Commission, the three states that have maintained the same water tariff for the longest time are Pahang (since 1983), Perlis (1996) and Terengganu (1997).
Opposition politicians said that a hike in water rates would go against Pakatan Harapan’s pledge to reduce prices to help the B40 group.
“Prior to the general election, Pakatan condemned other states for being unable to provide free water, unlike in Selangor.
“They have now decided for so many states to hike their water tariff. Pakatan seems to think the people will forget what they said,” said Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau in a statement.
Dr Lau also pointed out that Pakatan had introduced many “big presents” in the form of new taxes such as the departure levy, sugar tax and digital service tax.
“Previously, the government said that it wanted to abolish the Goods and Services Tax and replace it with Sales and Service Tax with the intention of putting more money into the people’s pocket, but in reality, it does not have any effect.
“Instead, prices of goods have increased even more,” he said.
MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong said a rise in water tariff rates would put pressure on families from the medium to low income groups, as it would increase their cost of living.
“High ranking officials with a handsome income may not think this as a problem.
“But for lower-income families, every sen counts,” she said in a statement.
Industries in Penang are bracing themselves for a rise in water tariffs but hope the matter will be discussed first with stakeholders.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock said an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 companies in Penang that rely heavily on water may be affected.
“With the rise in production cost, we are hoping for a reasonable water tariff if the state does increase it.
“Hopefully, there will be a proper consultation with stakeholders before any decision is made,” he said.