‘Stingy’ Khalid saves RM2 billion from water deal


Alyaa Alhadjri, The Ant Daily

The “stingy” Selangor MB strikes again, this time saving RM2 billion from what the state would have had to pay water concessionaires if it were to conventionally take over.

There is almost no doubt in the minds of most Selangor citizens that Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is a more astute businessman and state administrator than he is a politician.

Increasing the state’s coffers through added revenue or reduced spending has been Khalid’s primary modus operandi, much to the admiration of many and chagrin of some.

It thus comes as no surprise when Khalid announced today (March 12) that the state government could save as much as RM2 billion through the federal government’s invocation of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to take over three of the four water concessionaires in Selangor.

“The concessionaires are now subject to Section 114 of the Wasia Act and this will have a positive impact on the state government and the people of Selangor as total payment to concessionaires is expected to be reduced by as much as RM2 billion compared to the previous offer of RM9.65 billion,” Khalid was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online.

“Under Section 114, the federal government will take over the assets and issue the license to the state corporation, Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB), to run this operation,” he said, adding that the entire takeover process is expected to be completed in three months.

Given Khalid’s background as a corporate figure, he would be well-versed in the processes involved in evaluating the initial offer made to the four companies.

The reluctance of the companies to cooperate with the restructuring exercise, given the fact that they now stand to receive RM2 billion less than the state’s initial offer, could be seen as being more politically influenced rather than strictly due to financial reasons.

Their refusal to accept the initial offer also remains even as Khalid decided to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BN federal government on Feb 26, outlining terms of the takeover, in exchange for approvals to build the Langat 2 water treatment plant.

Negotiations towards reaching an agreement had reached a stalemate after three out of four companies, with exception of state-owned Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd, had outrightly rejected or imposed conditions on the state’s final offer of RM9.65 billion.

The three other concessionaires in Selangor are the Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash) – to be placed under KDEB upon conclusion of the takeover exercise.

The Selangor government had also formed a special Pakatan Rakyat committee to oversee the water restructuring exercise and provide input for drafting of subsequent agreements to be signed soon.