What is the dispute between the Selangor government and the federal government over water supply and distribution in the state all about?
Essentially, the state government wants to take over water operations in the state because it feels that the politcally well-connected private firm Syabas has been inefficient and not complied with the terms of the concession agreement. The federal government could well bail out Syabas – with public funds. The Selangor government is also against Syabas’ plan for a 37 per cent tariff hike.
It all began under Mahathir’s ill-conceived privatisation policy. The website airuntukrakyat goes on to explain:
• Starting in 1997, BN privatised the various water companies in Selangor.
• Since then, Syabas and the others have exploited the people by draining them of hundreds of millions in cash.
• At present, the Selangor State Government wishes to return the right to control these companies back to the people.
Year Tariff Increase
1. An audit report on Syabas showed more than 72 per cent of contracts worth RM600 million was awarded to companies chosen through direct negotiation not by open tender process.
2. RM 325 million is ‘missing’ when a detailed audit was conducted between the contracts awarded from year 2005 to 2007 and Syabas public account.
3. On June 2005, Syabas broke the agreement by using imported pipes from Indonesia worth RM375 million. The supplying company is reportedly owned by Tan Sri Rozali Ismail, CEO of Syabas. His salary is totalled at RM5.1 million per year or RM425,000 per month.
4. RM51.2 million was spent for Syabas’ office renovation even though Jabatan Kawalselia Air Selangor (JKAS) only approved a budget of RM23.2 million.
5. After the Selangor State Government stopped Syabas from drastically increasing the water tariffs, Syabas at the moment wishes to sue Selangor for compensation valued at RM1 billion.
Year Tariff Increase
What is Selangor’s plan?
1. The current Selangor State Government wishes to buy back the water concession in upholding the people’s right to sufficient, clean and affordable water.
2. Public assets like water must be managed by a people-oriented government body not by a profit-oriented company.
3. Four private water companies will be repurchased and placed in one body where water treatment and water distribution will then be conducted by a sole operator. This measures will increase efficiency and reduce water tariff due to the non-existence ‘transfer cost’ issue.
4. Stresses on integrity and transparency – as stated in the Enakmen Kebebasan Maklumat introduced by the Selangor State Government – the system aims to reduce cronyism and be more benieficial to the people.
5. With strong and unanimous support, the Selangor State Government will be able to regain control of these various water companies for the sake of the people, stress on integrity and transparency, and ensure access of sufficient water and rightfully regulated water tariff for all levels of society.