Friday, August 01, 2003

Sabah keeps open mind on Federal proposal to manage water resources

Press Release

1 August, 2003

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah State Government will keep an open mind on the proposal for the Federal Government to take over the administration of water management of all states by the end of this year.

Speaking to reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on his return from Kuala Lumpur today, Chief Minister Datuk Haji Musa Aman said presently the State Government was finalizing discussions with a private firm, Ranhill, for a comprehensive water management system for Sabah.

" The discussions with Ranhill are proceeding well, and it is my hope that the State Cabinet will be able to reach a final decision on the matter by year’s end," Musa said.

Musa said if an amicable agreement could be reached with Ranhill, then the State Government would proceed with its own water management system.

" However, if a final agreement cannot be reached, and if we feel it is beyond our capacity to manage our water resources efficiently, then we can consider the proposal to turn over the administration of our water resources to the Federal Government. We will keep an open mind on the matter," Musa said.

Musa said the State Government was owing closing to RM 600 million to the four water concessionaires in Sabah who presently treat and supply water to the government for distribution to consumers. The Government, however, is unable to match revenue with costs incurred because it is saddled with an inefficient distribution system inherited from pre-independence days, with non-revenue water losses of around fifty percent.

" It is a heavy burden, and we must find a resolution to this problem quickly," he said.

Under the Malaysian Constitution water resources come under the purview of the individual states of the Federation. The proposal for the Federal.Government to take over the administration of water management from the state’s was made because a number of states in Peninsular Malaysia have run out of water resources or do not have the financial means to manage their water resources efficiently due to the demands of development.

The proposal, however, has received a mixed reaction from the different states. Some, like Pulau Pinang, support the proposal. Pahang is non-commital, while Kelantan has rejected it outright. A few other states have said there is a need for careful study of the proposal before proceeding to adopt it for implementation.

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