Sarawak CM: State govt does not intend to privatise state-owned utility companies

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is pictured at Hilton Kuala Lumpur for a meeting with Perikatan Nasional leaders November 1, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is pictured at Hilton Kuala Lumpur for a meeting with Perikatan Nasional leaders November 1, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUCHING, Nov 23 — The state government does not intend to privatise state-linked utility companies as it involves an enormous amount of funds that run into billions, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said today.

“At this stage, it is better for the state government to run and have control over utility companies.

“Sarawak is still a developing state and utilities are very essential infrastructures in order to move our economy forward,” he said during a virtual meet up with members of the Sarawak Business Federation (SBF).

The chief minister was asked if the state government has any plan to allow the private sector to run the various regional water boards and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) instead of being monopolised by the state government.

Abang Johari said he is aware that many utility companies are run by the private sector in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

He said in the case of Sarawak the time has not come for the state government to transfer utility companies to the private sector.

He said a large amount of funds is needed to build a very strong infrastructure, for instance, the construction of the mega hydropower dams.

He said any loan by the utility companies needs guarantees from the state government.

Sarawak Energy Berhad owns Batang Ai, Murum, and Bakun dams while the fourth dam in Baleh is under construction.

The chief minister said the state government is in the process of having one bill for both water and electricity charges for the consumers.

He added the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) is working with the utility companies to come up with one bill.

“Once this is done, consumers can pay their bills through mobile payment,” he said.

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