State PAC Must Audit RM3.3 Billion Water Projects; Lower Water Tariffs

Excited children in the far flung rural area are delighted to finally get clean water using the gravity system installed by Raleigh International.
Excited children in the far flung rural area are delighted to finally get clean water using the gravity system installed by Raleigh International.

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LETTER: On the 21st September 2016, I was notified by the Sabah State Assembly there will be a PAC seating on the 17th – 18th October 2016. Today (Wednesday) I was further notified that the meeting has been postponed to 27th – 28th October.

With this postponement, the State Audit Department will have ample time to gather information specifically to infrastructure projects worth RM3.3 Billion under the Sabah Water Department dated as far back as 2010.

No doubt the Sabah State Audit Committee has audited the Water Works Department on privatisation of water supply in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and also the auditing of management of non-revenue water for 2005, 2006 and 2011 as reported in the media.

But the recent exposure (of alleged graft) by the MACC should be taken with great gravity as it involves the tax payers money (the rakyat’s money). Thus it warrants another round of auditing of the specific infrastructure projects that was worth of RM3.3 billion.

Dr Roland Chia
Dr Roland Chia

I am making this call as I have received tremendous amount of feedback from my constituents and friends on how disgusted they are upon knowing that hundreds of millions of Ringgit of rakyat’s money have been siphoned out, and not properly utilised for the implementation of water infrastructures purposes in the state of Sabah.

Here we have villagers yet to receive government treated water supply for the last 53 years (since independence so to speak) and some of these unscrupulous businessmen living lavish lifestyles at the expense of the rakyat.

For the record, more than 70% of Rural villages in Inanam, Menggatal, Telipok are still relying on gravity water from the mountains which are untreated and in danger of being infested by excretion waste of animals, which results in disease like Leptospirosis which can lead to death.

The standard answer given to me at every state assembly seating is that the State Government has no funds to lay pipes and supply water to this villages. Now the rakyat knows where has the money gone to.

On a separate note, I am agreeable to the principle that consumers must pay more when using more than the basic needs introduced by the State Government, but this time around, I call upon the Sabah State Government to revise downwards, the water tariff by 50% that was introduced in Jan 2015.

Another water project in rural Sabah initiated by the opposition, rather than the ruling local parties.
Another water project in rural Sabah initiated by the opposition, rather than the ruling local parties.

The increase in water tariffs way back in 2015 have actually posed an additional cost to the existing business activities and households in Sabah. The water bill should be exempted from GST.

Under the revision in 2015, the water tariff is 30 sen for each cubic metre for the first block not exceeding 10 cubic metres, 60 sen for each cubic metre for the second block of 11-20 cubic metres, RM1.10 for each cubic metre for the third block of 21-35 cubic metres, RM1.30 for each cubic metre for the fourth block of 36-60 cubic metres and for those using more than 60 cubic metres, they would be charged RM1.80 per cubic metre.

For the Domestic 2 category, consumers living in apartments or condominium equipped with swimming pool facility would be charged a flat rate of RM1.30 per cubic metre since they were using bulk water metre.

Under Domestic 3 category, which is for consumers in low and middle-cost apartments, people’s housing project (PPRT), which do not have facilities and supplied with water using bulk metre, the present flat rate of 90 sen remains.

Beginning 2015, consumers categorised under commercial would have to pay RM1.60 per cubic metre for 70 cubic metres monthly usage and RM12 per cubic metre if usage is more than 70 cubic metres.

This commercial category is specifically for consumers conducting commercial and profit-oriented activities using water for its business operations. For the industrial category, the charge is similar with the commercial category.

DR ROLAND CHIA

* Dr Roland Chia is the PKR State Assemblyman for Inanam and the sole opposition member in the State Public Audit Committee.