GEORGE TOWN: Penang MCA urges the state government to withdraw its proposal to the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) for a water tariff increase.
State MCA liaison committee secretary Yeoh Chin Kah said the state government should help the people through difficult times during the Covid-19 pandemic instead of proposing substantial adjustments to the water tariff.
“Covid-19 is becoming more and more serious in our country, but the Penang Water Supply Corporation applied to SPAN to increase the water tariff, which will put a heavy burden on the people.
“The state government must withdraw its proposal to adjust water rates as soon as possible to avoid further burdening Penangites.
“When the people needed more assistance from the state government to face the pandemic, the state government chose to increase the water tariff, ” he said.
Yeoh called on Penang Utilities Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari, who is also non-executive director of the Penang Water Supply Corporation, to justify the water tariff hike and evaluate its impact on the people before making the decision.
“The magnitude of the increment at certain consumption levels is more than 100% of the original rate.
“For example, if a household uses 25 cubic meters of water per month, the current monthly water bill is RM6.70.
"After the adjustment, it will be increased to RM16.50, which is an increase of RM9.80 or 146%, ” he told a press conference at the state MCA headquarters in Transfer Road here on Monday (May 31).
Penang MCA vice-chairman and Youth chief Lim Swee Bok pointed out that the DAP-led state government had raised the water tariff four times over the past 10 years since it has been in power in Penang.
“According to the records by its water supply corporation, the state government levied a water conservation surcharge in 2010; the subsidy for commercial water charges was cancelled in November 2010; while the water tariff was increased in September 2013 and April 2015.
“Prior to this, the state’s water tariff was one of the lowest in the country.
“Times are bad now and people are suffering due to the pandemic, so we urge the state government to withdraw its proposal to adjust water rates immediately and focus on helping the people instead, ” he said.
Penang MCA spokesman and Bukit Bendera division chairman Tang Heap Seng urged the state government to take responsibility for the proposal to increase the water tariff.
“If you want to increase the tariff, you should not push everything to the Federal Government.
“Water supply corporation CEO Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa admitted that it applied to SPAN for a water tariff review in 2019.
“The Penang Government and the corporation should listen to public opinion and immediately withdraw the proposal to increase water tariffs to avoid burdening the people, ” he said.
On May 28, the state water supply corporation issued a statement saying that it applied to SPAN for a tariff review in 2019 to meet SPAN requirements for licence renewal from 2020 to 2022.
“All water tariff review proposals for all Malaysian states are subject to approval by the Federal Government, ” it said.
“The state does not apply for water tariff reviews but as the licensed water operator that serves Penang, the corporation submitted the review application to SPAN.”
It added that on July 21 last year, the Environment and Water Ministry announced in Parliament that it would not approve any water tariff review in view of the pandemic.
“Hence, it is very clear that no water tariff review will be approved until the pandemic is resolved, ” it said.
Also present at the press conference was MCA Youth national deputy organising secretary Tan Yang Pang.