SHAH ALAM: Selangor would have need to spend over RM200 million annually – or about 10% of the overall state budget – in the coming years, if it continues providing free water for all its citizens and not for targeted groups only.
Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari (pix) noted that there have been a gradual increase in the allocation by the state government for the free water programme over the past ten years, and that it would have been unsustainable for the state had it carried on.
He said it was with this in mind that the state decided to restructure the programme and only subsidise water for the lower income group (B40).
“Between June 2008 and October 2018, a total of RM1.635 billion were spent to provide free water in Selangor. This figure has been showing a significant increase each year.
“We spent RM68 million in 2008 and RM131 million in 2009, and if we look in 2014, it was RM167 million. It continues to rise in 2016 and 2017 with RM179 million and 183 million respectively.
“If we had carried on, the figure would have reached RM200 million. That’s about 10% of our state budget, and it is not sustainable for us to carry on,“ he told the state legislative assembly, here, yesterday.
Amirudin was responding to a question from Lee Kee Hiong (PH-Kuala Kubu Baru) on how much the state had spent annually for the free water since the programme was introduced in 2008.
The Mentri Besar had, during the 2019 Budget tabling for the state on Nov 23, announced that only the B40 group would enjoy free water beginning next year.
He said the amount of free water for this lower income group would also be increased from 20 cubic metres to 25 cubic metres monthly.
Amirudin had also previously said that the increasing cost to provide the free water was largely attributed to the rise in population in the state, which he said saw an increase of close to two million people in the past decade.
The restructuring of the programme was however not met well with many quarters, with Ahmad Mustain Othman (PH-Sabak), for one, warning that the move could cost Pakatan Harapan in the next general election.