600,000 households to enjoy subsidised water bills from January 1

File photo for illustration purposes

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KUCHING, Dec 16: Some 600,000 households in Sarawak will enjoy free water for the first RM5 of their monthly domestic water bill, which is equivalent to about 11,300 litres of free water.

According to the Ministry of Utilities (MoU) in a statement, this will come into effect from January 1, 2020, and is in line with the Sarawak government’s efforts to provide an equitable level of basic amenities to all households in the state.

The ministry noted that this free water programme will help to reduce the rakyat’s financial burden, especially for those in the low-income group, B40, who need the assistance most.

This subsidy will benefit about 600,000 households with domestic accounts across Sarawak and will cost the Sarawak government about RM40 million per year.

Besides subsidising the cost of water, the Sarawak government will also subsidise the cost of new electricity connections for low-income urban households.

The new connections costing up to RM5,000 will be provided free for such households.

The ministry emphasised the state government will also subsidise 70 per cent of the cost of new connections costing above RM5,000 up to RM10,000, while the remaining 30 per cent will be borne by the applicant.

The ministry also revealed that the state government has allocated RM8 million in 2020 to alleviate the financial burden of low-income urban households.

“It is estimated that a total of about 2,200 households will benefit from this initiative in 2020. This financial assistance is to complement the Sarawak government’s initiatives in providing electricity supply to the rural areas under its various on-going schemes under Project Rakyat.”

The free electricity connections are provided for residents in rural villages and longhouses via the Additional Late Applicant Funds (ALAF) and the Rural Electrification Schemes (RES).

“All these initiatives are testimonies of the Sarawak Government’s efforts to ensure that all the rakyat are provided with the 24 hours of electricity supply. It is also noteworthy that Sarawakians are also already enjoying the lowest average electricity tariffs in Malaysia and amongst the lowest in the region.

“At the same time, with effect from 1st January 2020, the tariff for abstraction, taking, drawing of raw water from any stream, river, watercourses or subterranean sources, as stipulated in Part VII of the Fourth Schedule of the Water Supply Regulations 1995, will be increased from the current one (1) sen per cubic metre to two and a half (2.5) sen per cubic metre.

“Besides, the tariff for taking or impounding of water from any river or stream for generation of electricity or electrical energy as stipulated in Part VIII of the Fourth Schedule of the Water Supply Regulations 1995, will also be increased from the current one sen (1) per kWh to two and a half (2.5) sen per kWh of electricity generated.

“These increases in the tariffs will generate more revenue for the implementation of infrastructure projects in Sarawak,” explained MoU.

Meanwhile, the ministry estimates that there will be a 2.5-fold increase in revenue from water royalty from the estimated current amount of RM220 million to about RM550 million in 2020.

“The increases in the tariffs will only affect the utility service providers such as Kuching Water Board, Sibu Water Board, LAKU Management Sdn. Bhd. and Sarawak Energy Berhad.

“It will not affect the general public as there will be no change in both the electricity and water tariffs. These are anticipated to benefit the rakyat because the spin-off effects will outweigh the additional costs incurred by the service providers.” — DayakDaily