Improve Power Supply and Efficiency Before Charging Higher Tariffs ~ Dr. Jeffrey

“…  It’s a gross misconduct and misgovernance on their part creating a “lose-lose-lose” scenario for Sabahans”

Image“The federal and Sabah governments along with their Ministers are failing the people in Sabah and turning a blind eye to unwarranted increases in the electricity tariffs in Sabah without solving the real problems. It’s a gross misconduct and misgovernance on their part creating a “lose-lose-lose” scenario for Sabahans” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in response to the 16.9% increase in tariffs for Sabah and Labuan compared to 15% increase in the Peninsula commencing next year.

The governments and Ministers need to understand that as the ruling regime, they are first and foremost, holding trusteeship as well as fiduciary and social responsibilities to the people.

They cannot put themselves in the shoes of TNB and SESB who are corporate bodies and not government agencies responsible for power generation, maintenance and supply.  

If TNB and SESB cannot operate efficiently, then the government should stop their monopoly and open the electricity sector to other players. Let it be known that there are other capable Malaysian companies that are operating power projects in other countries and many are doing well without government subsidies.

The first loss for Sabahans is that there is absolutely no justification for any increase because there was already an increase in 2011 compared to no such increase in tariffs in the Peninsula since 1986 as acknowledged by the Minister, Datuk Maximus Ongkili, himself.

It’s a double increase and a double whammy for Sabahans as increasing costs caused by other factors such as cabotage as well as lower minimum wages compared to the Peninsula are increasing the burden on the people and affecting their daily lives.

The Sabah government and the federal Minister from Sabah should have fought for the exemption of any increase for Sabah.

“Why have they not done so? Are they so lame, useless and powerless or do not care for the people in Sabah?” queried Dr. Jeffrey.

The Sabah government and Sabah leaders should take lessons from the Chief Minister of Sarawak who announced that there will be no increase in electricity tariffs in Sarawak.

Secondly, the rate of increase of 16.89% compared to 15% in the Peninsula is not only an additional loss but a slap in the face for Sabahans and Sabah leaders. Again, there is absolutely no justification for the higher rate of increase given that there was already an increase in 2011 and contrary to the federal government’s policy for 1-Malaysia.

The different rates of increase shows that it is 2-Malaysia, one for the Peninsula and the other for Sabah and Sarawak, the so-called equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

Why can’t the federal government be fairer to Sabah and ensure that the rate of increase, if at all and which is absolutely unjustified, be the same as the Peninsula?

Even with the lower rate of increase, the Minister announced that the federal government will be spending another RM14 billion for consumers in the Peninsula. Why is there no corresponding support for Sabah?

ImageThis higher rate of increase just only shows and confirms the “couldn’t care less” attitude, disrespect and non-prioritization of Sabah’s interests by the federal leaders from the Peninsula.  The matter is made worse for Sabahans when these federal leaders are ably aided by stooges from Sabah who just only know how to “kow-tow” to their political masters and have forgotten that they are in positions due to being voted in by the people in Sabah.

Even the people in the federal territory in Labuan are not spared and are burdened with the unfair increase. Labuan only remains a federal territory in name and is treated as a step-child or far-flung colony instead of being part of the “real” federal territory when the increase is the same as Sabah and not the Peninsula.  

“Why isn’t the federal territory of Labuan not treated equally with the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. Why the double standards for Labuan? If it is a true federal territory, the rate of increase should be the same as the Peninsula” further queried Dr. Jeffrey.

The third loss is even greater for Sabahans. Like Sarawak, Sabah produces natural gas which is used by IPPs in the Peninsula who are subsidized to the tune of some RM19 billion a year while Sabah and Sarawak consumers get no such subsidy. This does not even include the RM26.6 billion that is going to Petronas and the federal government in 2014 from Sabah’s oil and gas.

If the federal government were just to transfer RM1 billion in subsidies to consumers in Sabah, the federal suffers no financial loss. On the other hand, the RM1 billion will give 833,333 households in Sabah free electricity of RM100 per month for a whole year.

“Why isn’t the Sabah government and the Minister of Energy who is from Sabah looking after the interests of Sabahans and fight for some concessions for consumers in Sabah on this gas that is coming from the earth in Sabah?”

At the local level, the Sabah government should ensure that SESB fulfill their obligations to the people in Sabah. SESB needs to ensure that there is real improvement and consistency in power supply and operate with efficiency so that there could be a justification for any tariff increase.

Based on economic theory, if SESB improves its efficiency, it can only mean that the costs of generation of power supply is lowered and this savings will translate into a lower tariff for consumers. There is no basis for any tariff increase without real efforts being put in to provide efficient and consistent power supply.

Merely quoting that there is a reduction in SAIDI from 2,867 minutes/customer in 2009 to 557 minutes/customer in 2012 is a deflection of the real problems and inefficiency of power supply by SESB. It is a known fact of such inefficiency until SESB is also known as “Sabah Everyday Sure Blackout”.

Quoting a reduction in SAIDI to 557 minutes is only cheap publicity and nothing more than self-praise, a pat on one’s own back and aimed at misleading the people when its target was 450 minutes. They have missed the target by a mile. The true effort and target should be towards 0 minutes.

It has to be remembered that part of the decrease in SAIDI is due to an increase in number of customers. Mathematically, the average SAIDI will also drop even if there is no reduction in the total amount as a higher number of consumers in 2012 compared to 2009 will result in a lower average SAIDI.

ImageAll said of the tariff increase, it is crystal clear that the federal and Sabah governments and the Sabah Umno/BN leaders have failed Sabahans. All Sabahans should remember this when coming voting time in GE-14 and vote out leaders that do not look after the interests of Sabah and Sabahans and give the opportunity to other leaders to form the next federal and Sabah government.

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About dusunbukit

You've got your truth, I've got my truth. We can't be both wrong. The real challenge is to discern the difference. Pardon me if I offend you, but I'm going to put my words bluntly. So, lets rumble..
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