KUALA LUMPUR: Experts believe that the government should postpone its plans to raise the water tariff this year, as the uncertain economic conditions could have an impact on the people.
Water industry expert, Assoc Prof Dr Haliza Abdul Rahman, said the move would only burden consumers.
“I do not support the move given the uncertain economic climate. The government should postpone it until timing permits.
“What the government needs to do now is to educate consumers on how to avoid wastage. If the tariffs are raised and the public remain uneducated on water usage, there will have been no improvements,” she told Berita Harian.
Haliza said the issue on low water tariffs should not be a priority yet in the government’s bid to strengthen the national water industry.
She believed that public awareness on the importance of prudent water usage as well as protecting water sources should instead be improved to ensure that the country continues to have uninterrupted supply of water.
Meanwhile, economist Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai said the water tariff hike should not come at the expense of burdening the consumers given that the average household income is already affected by the rising cost of living.
“If the tariffs need to be raised, the authorities have to devise a mechanism to ensure that it doesn’t burden the consumers.
“State governments which manage their own water could probably organise free water programmes for the B40 (bottom 40) group to reduce the impact of the move on this segment,” he said.
On Tuesday, Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar said water tariff rates may be increased in stages this year, in line with the government’s efforts to restructure the water supply services industry in the country.
He said the increase in the natural resource was necessary to protect the consumer’s interest in getting good water quality and ensuring the industry’s services.
He said the ministry is working with the National Water Service Commission (SPAN) and discussing it with the state governments to get the agreement of all parties before the increase is implemented.