It will only stop when the Govt cannot absorb anymore unemployable graduates and that will only happen with economic collapse.

Stop redundancy of government agencies

The Auditor-General’s Report touched on some of the failures by the Sewerage Services Department (JPP) of the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA).

The Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) has raised the issue of redundant agencies in government operation many times and JPP is one of them. Having such an agency will deter actual plans laid out in the national water services industry restructuring process via the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA).

Awer has also met the secretary-general of KeTTHA to discuss on dissolving JPP and absorbing the officers into KeTTHA, Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (Span), Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK), Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) or other government agencies. This discussion notes were also resubmitted to the attention of current KeTTHA minister after emails and letters had gone missing in the minister’s office during the first few attempts.

Similarly, the Water Supply Department (JBA) needs to undergo a similar operation of dissolution. Redundancy is not only a stumbling block but it also causes operational mismanagement.

For example, a burt pipe incident involving a newly-laid pipe at Jalan Universiti caused severe road damage that left three vehicles damaged and one motorist was said to have been sent up around 10 metres in the air in late April 2010. The reasons given for the incident by JBA only shows its failure to carry out duties properly. There were no follow up investigations done and reports being published.

At the moment, JBA’s duties can be easily done by Span, PAAB and other water companies. In addition to that, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) that is tainted with a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) and its formation issues is also redundant with the functions of the Energy Commission (ST). Why does KeTTHA always operate in such redundant manner?

A few days ago, the deputy prime minister urged government officers to prevent a turf fight which would affect the overall performance of government operation. In addition to that, the government should lead by example in reducing redundancy in government operation as subsidy rationalisation measures are being implemented.

The steps to reduce redundancy of agencies will be able to reduce the government’s operational budget burden, especially in KeTTHA. These changes (to dissolve JBA, JPP and SEDA) can be recommended by the prime minister in the coming Budget 2014 as an immediate operational budget optimisation step in view of subsidy rationalisation and the government’s efforts in reducing administration costs.

Audit rural water and electricity supply projects

Recently, Awer visited a community in Kampung Panggau Dau, Sarawak. This community has been supplied with electricity since the 1970s, but they have yet to receive a treated water supply. They still depend on springs for their water supply. How many more fellow Malaysians are still waiting for it in the rural areas in Malaysia? Billions of ringgit are allocated but does it really reach the rural community?

We would strongly recommend that the Auditor-General conduct a full audit for rural water and electricity supply projects that have been implemented in Sabah, Sarawak and rural areas of peninsular Malaysia. With only six years to go to achieve Vision 2020, basic services such as treated water and electricity should not be neglected.

In addition to that, Awer encourages both Sabah and Sarawak to join the WSIA regime to improve the water services industry in both states. We hope both the states complete this process by 2015. Giving rainwater harvesting systems alone is not a long-term solution to rural water supply. Furthermore, the economy development in both states will also be jeopardised without reliable treated water supply.

PIARAPAKARAN S is president, Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer).