IPOH, Jan 9 — Like it or not, the water tariff in Perak needs to be adjusted, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said today.
However, he sought to reassure Perakians that the hike would be minimal as the state would not want to burden consumers.
“The increase is necessary and not done to burden the people. Once the rates are increased, we will ensure the welfare of those in need will be looked after,” he told reporters here before chairing the weekly state executive councillors’ meeting at the State Secretariat building.
Ahmad Faizal said he was briefed on the matter by Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB) two months ago regarding standardising the water tariff in the country.
“We will consider all aspects before a final decision on the matter is made,” he said, noting that the increase was inevitable.
“If it is not done this year, we still need to increase the rate in two or three years’ time,” he added.
Ahmad Faizal was asked to comment on a report quoting Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar that water tariff rates might be increased in stages this year, in line with the government’s efforts to restructure the water supply service industry in the country.
Ahmad Faizal said before the increase takes place, the state government will educate the people on cherishing water more.
“If one can pay RM1 or RM2 for a bottle of mineral water but shower for 30 minutes just because water is subsidised…” he added.
The mentri besar said the state wanted to ensure the percentage of increase will not be too taxing on the people and industry.
“For Perak, we argued that we still want to remain attractive to investors. If the rates are too high, investors may just shy away from Perak.
“Hence, I cannot give the commitment that we will follow the recommended rate by PAAB as we need to protect jobs,” he said.
Ahmad Faizal said the increase was justifiable as the state cannot be using its reserves to repair water pipes, before reiterating “as long as the increase does not burden the people”.