Selangor may give free water only to B40 group


KUALA LUMPUR: The Selangor government will review the free 20 cubic metres water programme to be targeted at the bottom 40 per cent income earners (B40 group).

“When we started this free water (programme) for the first 20 cubic metres in 2008, the subsidy was RM70 million. Last year, this figure had increased to RM170 million,” said Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari.

“This year, the water subsidies borne by Selangor government will increase to RM200 million,” he said after officiating at the 10-day Selangor International Business Summit here yesterday.

“We will review the free water programme just for the B40 group so that it will not burden the state. We want sustained water supply to all Selangor residents,” said Amirudin.

Raja Muda Selangor Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (second from left) launching the Selangor International Business Summit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. With him is Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari (left). PIC BY EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

The water tariff is set at a minimum of RM6 for 35 cubic metres, but the first 20 cubic metres is free since Pakatan Rakyat took power in Selangor in 2008.

Two months ago, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar had suggested that the state government should reconsider its free water policy and target this subsidy for the poor.

Jayakumar expected water tariffs to be increased gradually after the Selangor government had completed the restructuring of its water management.

Last month, the state government, via Air Selangor, had offered to buy Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) for RM2.55 billion.

The Splash takeover does not involve any financial allocation from the state government coffers and is structured for long-term payment.

This water-asset restructuring initiative will conclude when Air Selangor emerges as the sole entity that processes, treats and distributes water to consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

Asked about Selangor’s economic worth, Amirudin said this year, the state targeted to achieve RM290 million, a 7.2 per cent expansion from last year’s RM270 million.

Last year, Selangor maintained its lead as the biggest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of RM1.35 trillion. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd