Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Free water not doable, says Shaziman - The Star


As the June 1 deadline approaches for Selangor to receive free water, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor doubts the Pakatan Rakyat government will be able to do it.

This is because once the mechanism to calculate water tariffs have been standardised across the states, profit margins would be kept very low, Shaziman said.

"I doubt they will have the capability to do so because the federal government will act to ensure that profit margins are kept very low. This is because water is a basic necessity.

"For now, the Selangor government has not gone through the mechanism yet so it's still possible for them to give 20 cubic metres free water.

"Once they have gone through the mechanism and where a ceiling will be imposed on the profit margin, I don't think any state can give free water," he told reporters Tuesday at the Parliament lobby here.

Shaziman said the only way that the Selangor state government could give free water was by subsidising the water operators and pay them the difference in funds.

He said the ministry also welcomed Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's statement that the state would take over the four companies involved in water production and distribution in the state through its subsidiary Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd.

The state has three water producers – Konsortium ABASS, Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash) – while Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) distributes water.

Shaziman said however he had yet to receive any proposal from the Selangor state government.

"I have talked to Tan Sri (Khalid) last week but he has not made an appointment to see me. If they are really interested in taking over, they should forward the proposal to us so this can be studied.

"However, they must still maintain a golden share for the federal government in order for us to step in to protect the interests of the consumers," he said.

Shaziman also said once the mechanism had been standardised under the Water Services Commission, there should be an adjustment to water tariff rates.

"For instance, some water treatment plants in Selangor are charging too high for their services," he said.

When asked, Khalid said that the Selangor government would calculate its water tariff rates "differently" from that worked out by the federal government.

"This is because the federal government only controls the water tariff to consumers but not the costs of raw water and that from the treatment plant. The free water plan still goes on," he said, adding that he would also be writing a letter to explain the state's water restructuring plan soon.

No comments: