GEORGE TOWN (June 12, 2008): By Opalyn Mok
The Penang government will not do away with water tariffs like Selangor nor will it increase the rates this year.
"We have no plans to provide free water to Penangites because the rates here are still the cheapest in the country," Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.
He said the water consumption rate in Penang is also one of the highest in the country, so it is not feasible to provide free water.
"Maybe it's because water tariff rates are low, that's why Penangites tend to waste water, and we want people to conserve water," he said.
He said only when water is expensive will people not waste it.
However, this does not mean the state government plans to increase the water tariff rates this year.
"It is also unlikely that we will increase the rates next year," he said.
The only reason the state government would consider increasing water tariff rates is if water consumption jumps astronomically.
"Then we may consider increasing it to save water," he told a press conference in the Penang International Sports Arena here today.
On another matter, Lim described the 60% increase in the cost of the Penang second bridge from RM2.7 billion to RM4.3 billion in one year as frightening.
"Even with increasing prices of petrol and materials, how could it increase by RM1.6 billion within a a year?
"The inflation rate last year was only about 2% so the costs should only increase by 2%, not 60%," he said.
Lim said the higher cost will only burden the people of Penang as it would mean higher toll rates.
"They should get Petronas to sponsor the bridge project. What is RM4.3 billion to them if they could spend extravagantly on gala dinners overseas and buying their own private jets?" he said.
He also said the federal government should explain to the people why the costs have increased so much within a year.