RM1.05 bil suit against S’gor govt set for hearing Jan 11

(Bernama) – The High Court here has set Jan 11 for the hearing of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor’s (Syabas) RM1.05 billion compensation suit against the Selangor government over a water tariff dispute.

Initially, Justice Datuk Mary Lim was scheduled to hear the matter today following the Court of Appeal’s decision on Oct 8, which allowed the state government’s application to set aside the judge’s decision in allowing the plaintiff to amend its statement of claim.

However, counsel Datuk Harpal Singh Grewal who acted for Syabas, told the court that although the parties were ready to go on with the trial, the plaintiff (Syabas) had already obtained leave to appeal from the Federal Court on Oct 23 to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Harpal also informed the court that the Apex Court had indicated the matter would be heard soon since it was a case of public interest.

Justice Lim set Dec 17 for case management of the case for the parties to inform the court on the outcome of the plaintiff’s appeal at the Federal Court.

The plaintiff in its initial statement of claim had stated that the compensation should be based on RM1.89 per cubic metre, but later sought the High Court’s permission to amend the quantum, to either RM1.82 or RM1.80 per cubic metre as stated in the water concession agreement.

In the suit filed on Nov 10 last year, Syabas is seeking the Selangor government to pay RM1.05 billion in water tariff adjustment.

Syabas claimed that based on the concession agreement, dated Dec 15, 2004, signed by the Malaysian government, the Selangor government and the company, it was given a 30-year concession to buy treated water from water treatment operators and to supply the treated water to the distribution areas in accordance with the terms spelt out in the agreement.

Syabas said that through a letter dated March 31, 2008, it sent a document to the Selangor government to support its application to increase the gazetted tariff of RM1.39 per cubic metre to a new agreed tariff of RM1.89 per cubic metre for the third operations period from Jan 1, 2009 to Dec 31, 2011.

It claimed that the defendant had failed to inform the company whether it had agreed to increase the gazetted tariff to the agreed tariff.

Syabas also claimed that it had sent several letters to the defendant to claim compensation in line with the concession agreement but failed to get any satisfactory reply from the defendant. In the affidavit-in-reply, the Selangor government, through the State Secretary at that time, Datuk Ramli Mahmud, said the suit by Syabas was an abuse of court process, arguing that the water industry was undergoing restructuring as required under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 and the National Water Services Commission Act.

At today’s proceedings, the Selangor government was represented by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamar.