Selangor granted Splash operating licence amid water deal deadlock, ex-MB claims


(Malay Mail Online) – Former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has accused his successor Azmin Ali of granting water concessionaire Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) an operating licence amid an ongoing tussle between the state government and Putrajaya over the controversial water restructuring agreement.

Citing reliable sources to back his claim, Khalid said the Selangor government’s latest move as well as its refusal to come to an agreement with the federal government with regards to the terms and conditions of the water deal might result in the cost of the takeover of the four state water concessionaires to be more than RM9.65 billion.

“I was also surprised when I was informed that the state government had today issued an operating licence for clean water to concession company Splash.

“This seems to contravene the efforts and spirit of the Selangor people to become owners of the water industry once the water restructuring is finalised,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail Online late last night.

Khalid had been responsible for inking the state’s water restructuring deal with Putrajaya on September 12 last year when he was still mentri besar, in which Selangor in its buyout would assume Splash’s water-related liabilities amounting close to RM1.6 billion, apart from the equity compensation in cash consideration worth RM250.6 million.

Of the four concessionaires, only Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd and Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd had agreed in principle to Selangor’s combined offer of RM7.817 billion.

The federal government had also agreed to provide RM2 billion to help offset the state’s cost of taking over the four concessionaires: Syabas, Puncak Niaga, Konsortium Abbas and Splash.

“Even though it is important for the water restructuring exercise by citizens must also be reminded that the price for the equity takeover of the four water concessionaires must not be more than RM9.65 billion as what was agreed,” the Port Klang state lawmaker stressed.

Khalid revealed that he had met with Energy, Water and Green Technology Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili over Azmin’s decision to cancel the water deal.

He added that Ongkili had pledged to find a solution to carry out the Selangor’s planned water restructuring exercise, through the use of the Water Services Industry Act 2006.

Khalid said the failure to carry out the water deal as per the September 12 heads of agreement would result in Selangor losing an opportunity to take over the equity of the four state concessionaires that had been “gaining unreasonable profits” all this while through high water tariff rates and lopsided privatised agreements.

“Without full control of the water industry, the Selangor government might not be able to carry out its free disbursement of 20 cubic metres of water every month which it had been doing since June 2008 due to a lack of funds,” said Khalid, who is now an independent lawmaker.

On Tuesday, current Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin said he is willing to discuss the leasing of state land to Putrajaya as part of the controversial water agreement, but stressed that the deal had not expressly stated that state land would be part of the assets to be given to Putrajaya as part of the water restructuring exercise.

A day earlier, Selangor revoked the agreement with Putrajaya following the federal government’s alleged failure to comply with pre-conditions set out by the state government.

Azmin had said the master agreement signed by his predecessor could not be carried out as the federal government had already been granted enough time to adhere to Selangor’s conditions.

The Gombak MP said Putrajaya had violated the original terms of the water agreement by asking Selangor to hand over all land where 26,000km of pipes belonging to state water concessionaires are built across the state.