KUALA LUMPUR – Barisan Nasional (BN) today challenged the DAP administration in Penang to pledge it will not raise water tariffs if it is returned to power in the 14th general election.

The BN strategic media team said such an assurance was needed as the state had allegedly sought to raise water tariffs for consumers by 77 per cent and 58 per cent for businesses.

It claimed the state had applied to federal authorities in December for approval to increase the rates by the amounts on April 1, and challenged Penang to confirm or deny this allegation.

It also added the state then doubled its water conservation charge instead, which the BN team suggested was done for political reasons and insufficient to adequately fund the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP)

“There is a concern that after the 14th general election, the Penang state government will revive the earlier broad-based water rates increase to avoid losses at PBAPP,” it said.

It said the concern was palpable given the 500 per cent increase in the state government’s since 2008 and a reported admission by a Penang exco that there was only limited state land still available for sale.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s insistence that his administration still needed to retain its hotel room fee once a federal tourism tax is introduced next month further fuelled concerns about the state’s finances, it said.

“Some observers have pointed out that this move is an indication of the Penang Government’s desperation for money,” the BN team added.

BN has been pressing Penang on its financial health since the state government announced that it required a bridging loan from China to help fund its transport masterplan.

– Malay Mail