Dzulkefly was reacting to an interview in The Star today with Maximus Ongkili Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water. The story quotes the minister as saying that the forced acquisition under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Wasia) will commence in two weeks and the federal government will be in charge of Selangor’s water industry for at least three years.
“I am very alarmed. What is the position of the Selangor government in all this? Reading the report, it would seem that the minister (Ongkili) could be taking charge of the entire water operations in Selangor for three years. That is a terribly long time. It is not what we bargained for,” said Dzulkefly.
Yesterday, Khalid released an official statement that more details of the state’s water restructuring under Wasia will be revealed next week but stopped short of mentioning any timelines or specifics.
Ongkili’s announcement seems to have pre-empted the MB’s statement.
“I don’t think our MB is unaware of all this,” said Dzulkefly. “But it could be that Ongkili is just playing a game of one-upmanship to send a signal to the concessionaires that everything is okay, he is still the boss.”
Ongkili also elaborated that once Wasia is endorsed by the cabinet and gazetted by the attorney general, the federal government will control and administer the water industry in Selangor as well as implement Langat 2 through a special task force.
The administrators will be representatives of the three stakeholders from Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB), National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and the Selangor state government.
“The water players in Selangor will just have new bosses. It will be an interim three-year takeover until the first trickle of water comes from the Langat 2 water treatment plant or shorter, depending on the situation. No one will be displaced. They (the players) will still own the assets but we will monitor to ensure they service their interest payments,” Ongkili said.
That would seem to contradict the initial agreement stated in the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed last month between the state and federal government implying that Selangor would still be in control of the state water industry under a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) with the federal government having the option of a maximum 30% equity in the state water operations.
“The Section (Section 114 of Wasia) does not bestow us the right to take over the assets as our role is to facilitate as per the content of the Mou,” Ongkili said.
That also implies it would still be business as usual for the water concessionaires Puncak Niaga, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor (Splash) and Abass.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have lambasted Minister Maximus Ongkili Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water for reneging on Selangor’s water MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) by announcing that the federal government will take interim control of the state’s water assets for three years.
“It’s complete claptrap. What the minister (Ongkili) has just announced is essentially a takeover without a takeover. The MoU was for the state to takeover with the price of the takeover to be fixed. An interim takeover by the federal government for three years was definitely not in the cards,” says Tony Pua who is part of PR’s special water committee.
Ongkili was reported in The Star today as saying that the forced acquisition under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA) will commence in two weeks after being endorsed by the cabinet and gazetted by the Attorney General.
“This is clearly a delaying tactic by the federal government to create an opportunity for them to overcompensate the water concessionaires,” says Pua.
Ongkili had also previously backtracked on the enforcing of WSIA, claiming that he is still hopeful of a “willing buyer, willing seller” deal between the state government and water concessionaires.
The MoU announced last month by Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) Khalid Ibrahim and Ongkili paved the way for the state takeover of Selangor’s water concessionaires and approval for the long delayed Langat 2 water treatment project.
Yesterday, Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) Khalid Ibrahim released an official statement promising details of the state’s water restructuring under WSIA next week but stopped short of any timelines or specifics.
Charles Santiago, Klang MP is also fuming over the latest turn of events in Selangor’s water restructuring saga.
“It is a tight slap on the Selangor government and changes the game completely. It makes the MoU redundant. They (Khalid and Ongkili) need to be transparent about the whole thing and not play hide and seek anymore. They owe that to the Selangor public who have been very patient for many years,” said Santiago.
The Klang MP is also urging Ongkili to come clean on why he is suddenly contradicting the water MoU and undermining the state government.
“Why does WSIA need to be gazetted again? It is all getting very suspicious. WSIA has been instituted as law since 2006. Once it’s passed as law, it’s a law, simple as that. I suspect that the federal government is very worried that they will send the wrong message to the business community if they take over the water concessionaires,” said Santiago who added that he was very involved in the formation of WSIA.
He also questions the federal government’s decision to control Selangor’s water assets for an interim three years, as announced by Ongkili.
“Presumably, SPAN (National Water Services Commission) will be the lead agency once the federal government takes control. Selangor state will no longer be the dominant player. Ongkili also mentioned that federal government will assume control until Langat 2 treatment plant is up and running. That is very clearly against the agreement in the MoU which stated that Selangor will run it (the water assets) independently via a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle),” said Santiago.