Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Selangor MB has been ill-advised over water deal

The Selangor Mentri Besar has been ill-advised when he claimed that the Federal Government wanted free land as part of the water restructuring deal in the state, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

Dr Ongkili said it was stated in the water agreement signed last Sept 12 that the assets would go together with the land and even on that matter, the Federal Government had compromised.

Selangor, he said, claimed that it had over RM14bil worth of assets – RM10bil worth of pipes and RM4bil worth of treatment plants and reservoirs.

“If that is the case, they should go with the land because if the new concessionaires want to lay new pipes, they need access to them.

“So, we compromised and said, ‘Never mind, even if you cannot give us the land, you can assign to us rights to the land,’” he said after launching the Second International Water Association Malaysia Young Professionals Conference here yesterday.

Mentri Besar Azmin Ali had reportedly said that Selangor decided not to go ahead with the water restructuring deal because the Federal Government wanted “free land”, particularly in relation to the transfer of ownership of land involving 26,000km of pipes.

He had also claimed that land was not part of the main agreement but only the handing over of assets by the concessionaires.

Dr Ongkili also denied Azmin’s claim that the Federal Government would take over the land after the 45-year lease, describing it as “nonsense”.

“Under our lease agreement, the land goes back to the state government. He has not been properly advised,” he said.

Dr Ongkili said he had written to Azmin about the outstanding issues and confusion, and suggested that their officers meet as soon as possible.

“And thereafter, we two can meet,” he said, adding that he was still looking forward to finding a solution or the “option would be tougher. There is no need for re-negotiation”.

However, in Shah Alam, Azmin said he had received Dr Ongkili’s letter stating that the Federal Government was prepared to go back to the negotiation table.

“If they are willing to return to the terms stipulated in the master agreement (signed on Sept 12), we are prepared.

“The problem is that the Federal Government started coming up with new suggestions that are not in the original agreement,” said Azmin.

He also said that Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) had received an operating licence because it was given a year to comply with Selangor’s water restructuring exercise.

The licence given to Splash, he said, was an extraction licence for the concessionaire to tap and treat raw water before this was channelled to consumers.

Former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had questioned Azmin over the awarding of the licence to Splash at a time when the water deal was at a stalemate.

State-owned Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) will be taking over the state’s water industry from its four concessionaires – Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Konsortium ABASS and Splash.

The first three concessionaires had agreed to the state acquiring them except for Splash.

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