KLANG, Jan 5 — The federal government wants another discussion with Negri Sembilan on its water plans after the state government said it will maintain current tariffs instead of raising them as agreed in principle last year.
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the state government needs to show it has a workable mechanism to ensure zero water disruption issues after choosing not to hike tariffs for the next five years.
“I will discuss with Negri Sembilan. The state must have a mechanism that it needs to be brought up to the ministry to show that there will not be any water issue in the state.
“We know which state whose situation is critical and if we do not act now, in five years we will face a big problem and a crisis,” he told reporters after launching a tree planting programme in Taman Bandar Botanik here.
He listed Selangor, Penang and Johor as having considerably low water reserve levels which had led to water disruptions.
Dr Xavier has repeatedly said Malaysia’s supply of treated water is in dire straits and the nation may not be able to weather a future crisis, following increasing disruptions due to leakages, pollution and prolonged drought nationwide.
Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun announced yesterday that his government will not raise the state’s water tariff for the next five years, adding that the decision was in line with the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.
He was also reported as saying that there were no discussions specifically on the matter by the state executive council.
The Negri Sembilan decision appears to run counter to Dr Xavier’s announcement in December 2019 that all states have agreed in principle to increase their water tariffs in 2020, with the rates to be finalised later in line with the government’s efforts to restructure the water supply service industry.
Today, Dr Xavier said the public needs to understand that the water industry requires a huge budget in order to provide uninterrupted water supply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The challenge is basically obtaining sufficient budget to upgrade the efficiency and services of the water industry particularly existing infrastructures which is one of the most important of all.
“Even if there is a rise in water rates, we will keep it within 2 per cent of family income expenditure and that is not much,” he said.
He added that the ministry required cooperation and understanding from all states to solve persisting water issues within the next five years.