DAP: Why did GRS put off taking back of SESB with revival of TSGP in the pipeline?
20 Oct 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: DAP Sabah secretary, Chan Foong Hin has slammed Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) Government for taking off the table the returning of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) from the Federal Government.
The discussion initiated by the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Warisan government prior to 2020 was seen to have been quietly terminated by current chief minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor
“Hajiji, for reasons best known to himself, had on March 4 informed the Federal Government that the Sabah State Government would only be ready to take over SESB and power to regulate electricity generation in Sabah within five to seven years from now.
“This is according to an answer given to me on Sept 29 in Parliament’s Special Chambers by Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Datuk Ali Biju to my question regarding the latest status of the handover of SESB and the power to regulate electricity generation in Sabah to the Sabah State Government,” he said in a statement today.
Chan stated that it was known by the public that SESB has been operating at a loss with its current model, the same of which is unsustainable with the electricity tariff rate imposed on electricity consumers in Sabah at an average rate of 34.52 sen/kWh.
The rate, he said, is much lower than the latest actual electricity supply cost of 42.34 sen/kWh without fuel subsidies.
“Ali further claimed that since 2005, for the past 16 years, the total subsidy channelled to SESB has reached RM7.6 billion. Even with subsidy, the cost of electricity supply is currently only reduced to 36.85 sen/kWh, which is still a loss-making business.
“I have spoken to former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC), Yeo Bee Yin regarding the matter and I have been informed that the PH-Plus Federal Government and Warisan-Plus Sabah Government were very close to closing the deal back in February 2020.
“The former Warisan-Plus Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal is indeed a hard negotiator with the Federal Government whereby he had wanted a subsidy of RM 10 billion with the takeover of SESB whilst the Federal Government under PH were ready to agree to the sum of RM 8 billion.
“In this regard, PH-Warisan government is bold enough to initiate the discussion. It was not just a SESB takeover and additional subsidy, but the regulatory power to also be returned to the Sabah Government, including forming an energy commission for Sabah. At the end of the day, not only the Sabah Government own SESB, but power to regulate electricity generation in Sabah would also belong to the Sabah Government.”
According to Chan who is also the MP for Kota Kinabalu, the contrast between the PH-Warisan government and Perikatan Nasional (PN)–GRS government is obvious as one is thinking way ahead and take brave steps to assert the rights of Sabahans vis-à-vis federal, while the other is satisfied to just maintain the status quo of having electricity supply rights in Sabah controlled by outsiders (TNB).
“GRS’s decision to terminate talks on the return of SESB as being a short-sighted move, just to take the easy way out and shirk responsibility. It is time GRS to rethink the decision made.
“Another bombshell revealed in parliament (albeit after parliament ended) via a Written Answer dated Oct 15 to me was that the current Federal Government has made the decision to revive the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP).
“This decision to revive the cancelled project was probably made because the current Federal Government found it hard to recover the sum paid to the project developer based in China and continuing the project would be the easiest way out,” he asserted.
The TSGP was a RM4 billllion project to connect gas supply from Kimanis Gas Terminal to East Coast and is meant to go hand in hand with gas-powered plants to generate electricity, to balance the energy imbalance across Sabah.
“Over RM 3.5 billion had been paid (88 per cent of the total project value) to the project developer although the project was only at 11.4 per cent completion. The PH federal government had to cancel the project at the end of 2018 and tried its level best to recover the sum paid.
“The biggest issue here is that payment made first but work to be done later. So, my question would be, how would the Federal Government and Sabah Government monitor the work to be carried out as the payment was done not according to progress?
“This government ought to handle the TSGP issue with utmost transparency as it involves a very, very huge sum and the rakyat will be the one to foot the bill,” he said.
Chan also questioned if the central government consulted the state government before reviving the TSGP project.
With the TSGP project, he said the cost to generate electricity would drop by quite a bit, theoretically, and therefore there is no reason for GRS to put off the taking back of SESB and power to regulate electricity generation in Sabah.