Confusion over water tariff hike plan

PETALING JAYA: Despite “resistance” from several states to raising the water tariff, the government is maintaining that more than half of the states in the country are in favour of an increase.

This came about after several states made it known that they have no plans for higher water charges.

Johor and Melaka, for instance, said they revised their rates just three years ago.

But a source close to Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar said: “He main­tains that six states have agreed to do so.”

Another two more states would follow suit, the source added.

“However, he will only make an announcement once everything is finalised by year-end,” said the source.

The source’s remarks were in reference to Dr Jayakumar’s revelation in the Dewan Rakyat on Wed­nesday that six states had agreed to raise the tariff in line with the government’s efforts to restructure the water supply services.

According to the source, there was no mention of the states that had agreed to raise the charges as details of the mechanism and quantum of the hike had yet to be ironed out.

“Negotiations are still ongoing. The minister does not want to name the states involved as he does not want it to be made an issue by some people,” the source said.

Among the states that ruled out raising their tariff were Negri Sem­b­ilan and Sarawak.

“Not Sarawak,” said Sarawak Uti­lities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi, when asked whether it was one of the six states.

As for Negri Sembilan, Bernama had quoted its mentri besar as saying that the state was not on the list of those wanting to raise their charges.

The Selangor government, on its part, said it would make an official announcement on the tariff in the middle of this year.

Its Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari said the state government would also announce the status of its free water and programmes to encou­rage prudent use of water.

“We will probably make the announcement in June or July but right now, I cannot disclose the state government’s decision on the matters,” Bernama quoted him as saying yesterday.

In the case of Penang, Datuk Ja­seni Maidinsa, chief executive of­ficer of Penang Water Supply Corpo­ration, made it clear that the state did not say “no” to the proposed hike as it wanted to wait for the tariff setting mechanism (TSM) to be approved by Cabinet before applying for a tariff review.

“We did not say no to a hike, but we are awaiting for the TSM to be approved.

“And even then we may apply at a later date to the National Water Services Commission,” he said.

Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man declined to comment on the matter.


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