Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Standard water rates - a fair proposal?

Chief Minister of Penang Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon rightly raised his concern that it will not be fair to consumers in Penang if water rates go up as a result of standardisation of tariffs throughout the country, as proposed under the Water Services Industry Bill and National Water Services Commission Bill to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by our Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.

No consumer in their right mind would be happy if they find that their rates go up as a result of the Bills. Personally, I would like to see all states emulate Penang's efficiency in managing their water supply. If Penang could supply their water at 31 sen for the first 1000 litres for domestic users, why can't other states follow the same rate? Why should I pay 60% more than Penangites for the same poor quality of water that I get from my taps? Surely the proposed Bills are not an excuse to raise rates? It makes more sense to set a reasonable ceiling rate and allow individual states to offer a lower rate if they are able to manage their costs efficiently. Already we are bracing for TNB to raise their electricity tariffs.

I wonder how the low and medium income wage earners are going to cope with the shrinking of their Ringgit brought about by increasing costs of living. Pretty soon, there wouldn't be much left to feed their families after all the bills and housing & car loans have been paid. Will we see a rise in crime as a result of people not being able to make ends meet?



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