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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Power tariffs: Address the real issue, Warisan tells Maximus

Warisan veep Junz Wong expects an increase in tariffs after the general election if BN retains power in Sabah.
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KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Junz Wong has advised Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Maximus Ongkili to stop fooling Sabahans and address the real issue regarding electricity tariffs in Sabah.
Maximus had announced recently that the government would maintain current electricity tariffs and rebates for Peninsular Malaysia, as well as for Sabah and Labuan, from July 1 till the end of the year.
Wong believes this announcement was aimed at fishing for votes in the coming general election and Maximus had conveniently avoided the real issue.
“Why only six months and not longer?
“I believe Maximus is wasting his time if he thinks the people would be delighted with his announcement.
“They don’t care about what’s happening in the next six months but they are worried about the long-term future after the general election is over.”
Junz, who is also Likas assemblyman, said his guess would be that there would be an increase in electricity tariffs after the general election if BN retained power.
He said it was simply because the BN government had continued to sign more independent power-producing plant (IPP) contracts, such as the upcoming Ulu Pedas hydro-power plant.
“How can Maximus face his people after awarding contracts to private corporations when the Sabah government and SESB had openly declared that they wanted majority shareholding?”
Junz stressed that Sabahans must demand that SESB and the Sabah government be made majority shareholders for the Ulu Pedas hydro plant and other electricity-generating facilities in the state.
This would enable Sabah to have more control and better manage its electricity supply and tariff, he added.
He said Sarawak managed to reduce its tariffs by 40% when the petrol prices came down but Sabah and West Malaysia could not do it.
This was simply because there were no IPPs in Sarawak and all power plants are run by the state-owned utility company.
“We can compare Sabah with Sarawak because I have found out that Sarawak was offering reasonably cheap tariffs even before they had the Bakun Dam.
“So, Bakun cannot be the reason why Sarawak enjoys cheap tariffs. The reason has to be the IPP contracts.
“If Maximus really cares about getting cheaper electricity tariff for Sabahans, he should make sure SESB and the Sabah government get the majority shares in Ulu Pedas power plant in the long quest to reduce electricity tariffs for fellow Sabahans.”
Junz said this announcement to put off electricity tariffs for six months indicated that the general election may possibly be held by the end of 2017. -FMT

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