May 19, 06 11:56am
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) said it understands Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (TNB) “sentiments and justification” for the hike, and that it is “nothing short of expectation”.
“The hike is to be expected due to the very dire financial situation that TNB is currently facing. It has reported record loss of RM1 billion for the half year ended February 2006,” said Fomca.
“While we understand that external market forces such as spiraling petroleum prices are driving up the cost of power production, there is also operational inefficiency within TNB itself which makes it not financially viable,” it argued.
However it said the hike should come with an assurance that the majority of Malaysian households can enjoy quality of life “without foregoing their basic comfort, health and educational need in pursuit of a world class society”.
Revise minimum threshold
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi instructed the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry and TNB to review the proposed electricity tariff increase so that a larger section of the people will not be affected.
Its minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik meanwhile said the lower-income group - who he defined as those who consume less than 150 kilowatts per month - will not be affected by the new rate.
However, Fomca urged the government to revise the proposed 150 kilowatts minimum threshold level to 250 kilowatts to better reflect the broader need of the society.
“From our energy consumption audit on the common household electricity usage of a low income family of five, we’ve found that the basic electricity usage is definitely more than 200 kilowatts.
“The ones that will feel the pinch the most will be the lower income group. Comparatively, the urban poor will bear the harder end of the brunt than their rural counterparts as their minimum daily usage of electricity is higher than those in rural areas,” stated Fomca.
This is because, argued the association, that the low income consumers will have to resort to buying cheap electrical items which do not have energy saving capabilities and result in higher electricity usage in the end.