GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Water Supply Authority (PBAPP) refuses to foot what it calls “double subsidies” by absorbing the 90 sen service charge imposed by Pos Malaysia Bhd on every PBAPP bill paid at any post office throughout the country, which could amount up to RM1 million a year.
State Works, Utilities and Transport committee chairman Lim Hock Seng told reporters yesterday that this is because PBAPP is already subsidising 75% of domestic water consumption to the tune of some RM67.5 million, for the benefit of 471,466 registered consumers in Penang.
“Please understand that PBAPP is sustaining the lowest water tariffs in Malaysia for domestic consumption of up to 35,000 litres per month for the benefit of all residents here. PBAPP subsidises 31 sen per 1,000 litre. If we absorb the 90 sen service charge imposed by Pos Malaysia, which is about RM1 million a year, it would mean a double subsidy for us,” he said.
Beginning Jan 1 this year, Bursa Malaysia mainboard-listed PBA Holdings Bhd, which wholly owns PBAPP, added 90 sen to bills of sonumers who paid their previous month’s water bill at post offices in Penang or anywhere in the country.
The move led to a barrage of criticisms and a petition to PBAPP by consumers, and political parties in Barisan Nasional against the state for imposing the fee.
Lim said Pos Malaysia had imposed a service charge on water bill payers at its counters for more than 20 years and had gradually increased it from 40 sen to 90 sen.
“Consumers can avoid paying the 90 sen by settling their bills at PBAPP outlets, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd outlets, Penang local councils, and Penang Development Corp,” he said. PBA Holdings closed down one sen at RM1.27, with a market capitalisation of RM420.38 million.
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 10, 2015.