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Find S'gor water solution, not play blame game

The Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) reiterates that the restructuring of national water services industry is inevitable.

It is equally important that the public and businesses are fully aware of the strength of Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA).

Any attempt to delay or alter the WSIA model implementation will push Malaysia away from development.

Nevertheless, Awer has been continuously monitoring the WSIA model implementation to prevent it from being derailed.

We also urge the federal government and Selangor state government to stop blaming each other and analyse the solution for Selangor water services industry constructively. It is people that need to be protected!

Restructuring solution

The Selangor state government does not need a 100 percent stake to make decisions in Syabas or any other water treatment companies.

A total stake that is above 51 percent will enable it to move forward and put an end to concession agreement in Selangor. How can this be achieved?

In the RM5.8 billion Selangor water bond bailout, the federal government did not take over any stake from concession agreement holders that are equivalent to the bailout amount.

Now, the federal government must take over the stakes that are equal to the bond bailout value and transfer the stakes to the Selangor state government via WSIA's asset-light approach and complete the restructuring process to end concession agreements.

For example, Indah Water Konsortium (IWK), a private company, has signed a concession agreement with federal government on Dec 9, 1993 to manage the 'connected' sewerage services.

However, this private company was incapable of managing the debts and needed a bailout by year 1999. The federal government did bailout IWK and took over the entire company.

Section 191(4) and 191(5) of WSIA outline the renegotiation needs and the power for the energy, green technology and water minister (KeTTHA) to utilise 'national interest' in the water services industry restructuring process.

Based on the Dewan Rakyat's Hansard (Penyata RasmiDR.4.9.2006), the federal government did explain the reasons for IWK bailout and takeover. This can be a good basis to define 'national interest'.

This golden opportunity was always been in front of both parties (KeTTHA and Selangor state government). Why there is still delay in restructuring?

The federal government designed WSIA model to prevent the concession type of operation in water services industry.

The Selangor state government is also against concession agreements. This common goal is the unifying factor that should be fully explored!

Langat 2 water treatment plant project

Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (Span) must ensure a raw water quality based raw water tariff agreement to be signed between Selangor, Pahang and Span compared to a flat rate that is currently suggested.

The Pahang state government must permanently gazette the primary and secondary water catchment areas that will supply raw water via Pahang-Selangor raw water transfer project to ensure raw water supply security.

In addition to that, who will manage Langat 2 water treatment plant upon completion?

If we refer to the newly completed Sg Labu Water Treatment Plant in Selangor, it was handed over to Selangor state government to operate upon completion.

This is also a similar practice for all the states that have restructured under WSIA model. Therefore, Langat 2 water treatment plant must be handed over to Selangor state government to operate upon completion.

In this case, Selangor state government has nothing to lose. The WSIA model with asset-light approach allows more transparency. The public as well as businesses can demand to Span to increase transparency in water services industry.

Success in transparent tariff setting process

Transparent tariff setting is another great milestone achieved by Awer this year under WSIA implementation.

The secretary-general of KeTTHA has given a go ahead to Span to convert the transparent tariff setting framework into a functional mechanism after continuous pressure by Awer via media as well as directly with KeTTHA to implement transparent tariff setting process for water services industry.

This success in an important achievement for us in Malaysia because it will also further strengthen Awer's argument that WSIA model is a world class model that can be emulated for water services industry by any developing country.

Awer is looking forward to witness Malaysians participating in the first ever transparent tariff setting process in Malaysia. It is a victory for Malaysians!

Conclusion

The WSIA model will place Malaysia in the mainstream of world class socio-economic model for water services industry. Success is just few steps away and we hope no parties stand in the way.

We urge all stakeholders to read our publication, 'National Water Services Industry Restructuring - The Truth' to understand more about WSIA model and its benefits for Malaysia.

Do not politicise WSIA model implementation. Work together to ensure a 'correct' WSIA model is implemented for the benefits of the people and development of the country.

Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Kelantan, Selangor and Labuan have not restructured under the WSIA model yet.

In addition to that, Awer welcomes both Sabah and Sarawak to join the WSIA regime to enhance the water services industry in both states.

Ensure water security in Malaysia, do not politicise WSIA.


PIARAPAKARAN S is president of the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer).