The government agreement to take over the failed IWK sewerage privatisation project should be made public immediately for Parliament to make the final decision  whether to approve the take-over and if so, the terms, particularly on the RM200 million compensation to Prime Utilities

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): After re-tabling the 2000 Budget in Parliament last Friday, Finance Minister Tun Zainuddin confirmed that the government  had finalised an  agreement to resume control over Malaysia's debt-ridden sewerage operator seven  years after privatising the operations.

Daim said: "We have  paid and we have signed the agreement."

The Finance Minister had committed a gross dereliction of duty in not informing Parliament and the nation in his 2000 Budget why the government is using taxpayersí hard-earned money to give  a RM200 million "golden handshake"  for the failed Indah Water  Konsortium (IWK) sewerage privatisation project, after the government had pumped in about RM1 billion since the privatisation.  The previous Parliament only approved another loan of   RM150 million to help meet  Indah Water Konsortiumís  operational costs six months ago.

A day before Daimís confirmation,  IWKís parent company  Prime Utilities said in a statement to the Kuala Lumpur  Stock Exchange that talks for the government to take over IWK were in an advanced  stage.

Now who was telling the truth: Prime Utilities last Thursday that the take-over negotiations were in an "advanced stage" or Daimís statement on Friday that the agreement had been signed.  Or both were true - which meant that the takeover agreement was signed earlier on Friday itself?

In any event, the government agreement to take over the failed IWK sewerage privatisation project should be made tabled  immediately in Parliament to be scrutinised by MPs in the current debate on the 2000 Budget

The concessionaire for sewerage services had changed hands four  times in the last seven years, but it is clear that in every changeover, the previous concessionaireís interests are fully protected to avoid suffering any losses - in fact ensuring some profit  - and it was  the taxpayers who finally have to pick up the tab for the failure of the sewerage privatisation four times over!

This is why the agreement which the government had signed for the take-over of the sewerage privatisation should be tabled in Parliament without  any delay, to allow Parliament to have the final say as to  whether to approve the take-over, and if so, the terms, particularly on whether there should be a RM200 million compensation to Prime Utilities for the takeover.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman