Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 3 April 2014.
The Penang State Government’s Priority Is To Avoid Any Water Rationing, Where Efficient And Effective Water Supply And Water Demand Management Is Essential.
The Penang state government’s priority is to avoid any water rationing, where efficient and effective water supply and water demand management is essential. For the last 6 years, focus has been on water supply management to meet not only increasing demands from Penang’s growing population but also accelerated development and investment projects. This is proven by Penang’s Non-Revenue Water(NRW) of 17.6%, the lowest in the country, as compared to the national average of 36.4%.
There is no doubt that the pace of development in Penang over the last 6 years is more than the previous 18 years. Penang as a location of choice for investment is demonstrated by being the top FDI recipient in Malaysia for the period of 2010 to August 2013, of RM 19.7 billion or nearly 20% of Malaysia’s total FDI of RM103 billion. Previously Penang was never the top investment state in Malaysia but achieved that distinction twice in 2010 and 2011.
Any water rationing would be disastrous not only for residents but also for the business community. Whilst the efficient and effective water supply management has been effective in meeting the growing water needs from 865 million liters per day in 2007 to 1,035 million liters per day(more than 1 billion liters per day) as at March 2014, there must also be efficient and effective water demand management. There can only be so much water sources we can take.
Water demand management depends on pricing, water saving features and education. The Penang state government had earlier opted not to increase pricing even though the last time there was a hike in domestic tariffs was in 1993. However the failure of education programs and water conservation surcharge to penalise those who waste water has resulted in Penang recording the highest consumption of 311 liters per capita per day which is nearly 50% more than the national average of 212.
Such high water consumption is just not sustainable and if left unchecked would leave Penang no choice but to do water rationing in future. Climate change may result in a prolonged drought this year. Worse this drought may recur annually for an extended period for 5 years as had happened in Australia. We must remember that the prospect for a drought is very real with the ASEAN Specialised Meterological Centre in Singapore predicting lower rainfall in April to May and a dry spell between June to October this year.
Let us not forget it is not only Selangor and Johor that are carrying out water rationing. Even the wettest town in Peninsular Malaysia, Taiping, has started water rationing today. The people of Penang has no choice but to reduce water consumption. If higher water tariffs is necessary to reduce water consumption to avoid water rationing, then the state government will bite the bullet and raise water tariffs.
The Penang state government stresses that even after we raise water tariffs, Penang will still enjoy the lowest water tariffs in Malaysia. The Penang Water Supply Corporation or PBAPP had subsidised nearly RM 70 million last year to maintain the domestic tariffs to be the lowest in the country at 31 cents for the first 35,000 liters per month. This 31 cents is more than half the national average of 66 cents, with the most expensive water being Johor at 105 cents.
The Penang state government is compelled to take this step of increasing water tariffs for the future of our children by forcing consumers to cut down on water consumption so that our future generations will have a higher chance of avoiding water rationing.
Lim Guan Eng
-- CN Version --