Sewerage services tariff adjustment should be gradual


PETALING JAYA: Any decision to adjust tariffs for connected sewerage services and emptying septic tanks must be done gradually to lessen the burden on consumers, says consumer groups and water related NGOs.

Fomca chief executive officer Saravanan Thambirajah said he understood the reasons behind the tariff adjustment as it had not been reviewed since 1994.

“We understand that one of the highest costs for sewerage is electricity and that has gone up in the past three years.

“However, we need to make sure that the adjustments will not have a huge impact especially to those in the below 40 (B40) income group,” he said, when contacted, yesterday.

Beginning Oct 1, tariffs for emptying septic tanks will be raised between RM5 to RM8 a month, said the Water and Natural Resources Ministry.

The ministry also said tariffs for connected sewerage services will be seeing a hike of RM2 a month starting Jan 1 next year.

However, in order to ease the burden on the public, targeted subsidies will be provided through rebates to those who are registered under the e-Kasih programme, assured the ministry.

Saravanan said that many Malaysians are still impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic due to loss of jobs and income.

“We also hope that there will be less red tape for the B40 groups to apply for assistance under the e-Kasih programme to ensure that they are eligible for such assistance,” he said.

He added the government must engage with all relevant stakeholders to get a deeper understanding of the situation before making any tariff adjustments in the future.

Kuala Langat MP Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the adjustment was long over due, and the increase was very marginal.

“The Finance Ministry subsidises IWK to the tune of about RM100mil a year, with a rise, part of the money can be used for other purposes,” he said, noting that he had been advocating for an increase to ensure that the public will get clean and continuous supply of water.

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said the government must look into the aspect of cost benchmarking for Tariff Setting Mechanism.

“This mechanism will ensure inefficient costs are not passed to consumers. At the moment, the National Water Services Commission (Span) has not imposed a cost benchmarking mechanism for setting tariffs.

“Thus, we do not know if the increase in the sewerage tariff is efficient or otherwise,” he said, adding that the group had written to Span to reject any tariff review that is carried out without cost bench marking.

“For example, if there is inefficiency between 5% and 20% in cost components, the tariff increase will include this cost,” he said.

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