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Thursday, January 31, 2013

SEB committing a bigger sin, says DAP

Giving discounts in the billions to favoured companies is worse than electricity theft committed by local factories and businesses.
KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) in giving discounts in the billions to four companies is committing a worse sin than electricity theft by local factories and businesses, said DAP.
“About RM100 million worth of electricity consumed is not accounted for and the SEB has gone on a rampage trying to catch these electricity thieves.
“On the other hand, it thinks nothing of giving discounts to the tune of RM1.3 billion to four companies,” said Chong Chieng Jen, the state DAP secretary.
“I think SEB has got its priority wrong. We do not encourage stealing of electricity, but if we look at SEB projects, it has given mega discounts to cronies and individual companies.
“The amount is more than 10 times the RM100 million it is attempting to recover. For example, the Murum dam which was initially valued at RM3.7 billion went up to RM4.52 billion.”
“This alone is RM550 million over the budget,” said Chong. “The second project is the tender for the construction of the 500KV backbone transmission line from Samalaju, Bintulu to Tondong in Bau.”
“The project was to be awarded to a company allegedly owned by a son of Sarawak Chief Minister [Taib Mahmud] at RM1.15 billion, although the lowest tender was RM 1billion,” he added.
Chong said that the SEB had entered into an agreement with Press Metal Bhd (smelting plant in Mukah) to sell electricity up to 600MW at a price of 10.5 sen.
“If you compare to what the local manufacturers, factory owners and businessmen are paying [at 10.5 sen per kw/hour rate], there is a discount of RM671 million per year to the company.
“For Tokuyama, SEB is selling 140MW at a price of 11.5 sen. If you compare this rate with what is paid by the local companies, it gives this company a discount of RM145 million.
“These figures add up to RM1.3 billion. This amount, given in the form of discounts, wastage or favourable rates payment to cronies is more than 10 times what the alleged theft has cost SEB.
“If SEB wants to make profits and reduce expenses, it should look into those over-run projects, fishy deals and mega discounts to individual companies instead of persecuting the public,” he said.
“If you compare the two sins, the second one is the greater sin,” said Chong, who also Bandar Kuching MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman.
Chong said that the first “sin”, in a way, benefited thousands of Sarawakians in the sense that they pay lower tariff.
“Maybe businesses do temper with electricity metres and pay less but at the end of the day the effect is lower electricity and this will benefit thousands of Sarawakians.
“I’m not trying to justify electricity theft. But if you compare with the second sin, it will benefit these companies 10 times more than it will benefit thousands of Sarawakians.
“It is obvious the electricity theft is the lesser sin,” he added.
Chong called on SEB to review its discount rates to these companies in order to lower electricity rates at least by 30% in the interest of Sarawakians.
“I believe it will cut the electricity theft by more than half. The public will not try to steal electricity anymore because electricity is cheap,” he said.

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