Power Tariff Increase Will Hurt Consumers

PETALING JAYA: A tariff hike by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) will burden consumers who are already pressured due to price increase on other daily essential goods, said Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam’s (CASSA) honorary secretary, Jacob George.

“It will definitely have a major impact on Malaysian families. Even now, many cannot cope with the high cost of living and are paying utility bills with credit cards.

“And utility bills are not something to be paid using credit cards,” said an irate George.

Yesterday, TNB president Azman Mohd said the utility company is looking at increasing power tariff, but stressed that it would not burden consumers.

“Domestic users who consume less than 200 kWh would not see any increase in their electricity bill,” Azman was reported saying by New Straits Times.

George said that Malaysians could not afford any more increase of price in goods or services as they are already burdened by debt.

“The question that we should ask, are Malaysian consumers in a position to pay higher bills? This is not an economic question but a moral one,” he said.

George also accused the government of being selective in monitoring prices, and said that utility prices should also be classified controlled items.

“Why only monitor prices of goods when utility prices should also be monitored?

“It’s vulgar to increase the prices of goods at this juncture as not only the hardcore poor will suffer but also the middle class,” George said.

On Azman’s statement, George said that TNB has no reason to increase electricity tariff while its top executives are earning fat salaries.

“If TNB is running at a loss, or when we see the signs of retrenchments, then we could justify tariff increase.
“But right now, TNB’s top executives are taking home handsome salaries at the expense of suffering consumers,” said George.

Supporting George’s stand, Muslim Consumer Association chief Nadzim Johan said TNB should be efficient in its work and not burden consumers if it wants to remain the sole power supplier of the nation.

“If TNB is not good in managing its tariff, then we should bring in other power suppliers. Only when there is competition, TNB will improve its services,” he said.

Nadzim added that TNB should look into alternative energy if fuel cost is too expensive, instead of continually increasing tariff.

“They should not squeeze the consumers anymore,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) chief executive officer Paul Selvaraj defended TNB, saying that those paying less than RM70 monthly will not be burdened by the hike proposed.

“The exact mechanics are not yet set by TNB but we believe it is only for the high end users and not for the lower end users,” he said.

Selvaraj also agreed that TNB should look into alternative energy but added it was too expensive to explore at the moment.

“Petroleum and other prices of goods have increased all over the world; which has led TNB into looking at an increase,” he said.

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday