Saturday, May 20, 2006

Stupidity And Greed Power Tenaga's Tariff Hike Demand.

Sorry, not only greed, inefficiency too - and for good measure, atrocious planning.

With the 30 sen fuel hike still having a devastating impact on the average Mat Public, the news lately of increase in the price of sugar reduced our morale a little further. As if that wasn't enough, higher interest rates which affect housing and car loan payments were announced. Now comes the biggest shocker of them all - the impending increase in electricity tariffs.

Over the past few decades we as a people have been lulled into a false sense of security and a perception of invulnerability. Bad things happened only to other people in distant countries but not to us, as if safety and unending supply were our birthright; the government's bounty in providing for the lives of it's citizens taken for granted to last eternally.

Then came the tsunami to shake us out of our reverie. The hitherto unheard word became a part of our vocabulary, little realizing that more were about to be added. And added they were in quick succession. It feels different, nay lousy, to be on the receiving end doesn't it? We are slowly reconciling ourselves to the fuel hike; firstly there is nothing we can do about it and secondly there is a worldwide fuel crisis. Did you know that during the good old Mahathir years some economists had actually condemned fuel subsidies as an irresponsible practice? That's rich isn't it? People are unburdened due to subsidies and these economists say that's irresponsible! I wonder how many of those smart alecks are cursing now.

As for sugar price hikes I suppose some things are inevitable. Apparently world sugar prices are trading near 25-year highs and the government is having a difficult time preventing local sugar producers and wholesalers from raising prices. Keep in mind that sugar is a controlled item where the government fixes the price and this has not risen for at least the past 4 or 5 years. So even this we can grudgingly accept as one of those things that just happen.

However I for one cannot understand the rationale in Tenaga Nasional's demand/request/plea for an increase in tariff. Why? Justify to the people why you want an increase. Don't hide behind the government's skirt and beg them while coyly hiding from the people that keep you in business. I did a bit of reading on the subject in my free time which is precious little (the free time, I mean) and I simply can't find any reasonable grounds for an increase. None that will convince you and me to part with our hard-earned money to these people.

Somewhere along the way some idiot or idiots got Tenaga bound by agreements to purchase RM4 billion in electricity supply annually from independent power producers (IPPs). What this means is that our friend(?) Tenaga is stuck with a lot and I mean a lot of power oversupply. They have to pay the IPPs whether they like it or not. Rm 4 billion annually! Man that's a lot of moolah. As if this is not enough our said 'friend' has got itself entangled with another 2 more IPPs with almost similar brainless agreements which come into effect over the next few months and years. So prepare to be shafted once more later.

Tenaga has a monopoly for power supply in the peninsula and even if Bozo the clown runs it they will still make a handsome profit and they do - millions and millions in legal tender. For the second quarter of its financial year they made a whopping RM399.5 million in net profit! So why does the government treat them like kindergarten children who need to be looked after carefully? Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is not saying anything. As for Tenaga- 'silence is golden' seems to be the theme for the day everyday.

Now I've been wondering. Who are the lucky people who own these IPPs? Are they so smart to have suckered Tenaga into these bad deals? Or some really big fish, you know, whale-size is behind this and while we guys get the short end of the stick, he, she or they are raking it in big time.

There are of course many other problems that will surface along with this tariff hike, chiefly the 'knock-on' effect where everything goes up except our salaries. The impact it will have on the industrial sector will be felt slowly and painfully by us over the years until 'spoilt child' Tenaga wails for another hike.

Finally in future why not let the the big bosses of any company like Tenaga engage the public in a debate and convince us why rates should be increased. Let not the minister keep us on tenterhooks and be the bringer of bad news.


Blogger jan_der said...

it's very disappointing to hear that TNB is seeking for a tariff increase... we the loyal customers would have to pay for all these increase, despite the fact tnb's selling electricity very cheap to thailand.... tnb should ask thailand to pay more as well...let them pay at 23 sen/unit la... now they're talking about selling electricity to indon...i really hope they would send good negotiators or else it would just be another cheap deal similar to Thai....

about this IPP deal, why now only they realise they need to re-nego?? they want to honor the contracts?? gosh, it's a heavily one-sided contract & u should re-nego to uphold the public interest....

has there been any serious cost-cutting measures undertaken by tnb?? are they really efficient & if they claim to be efficient, at what cost?? at a much higher cost than other comparable utilities??? is tnb really sick & dying like what the minister has been claiming? or do they just need more money to pay higher bonus & salary to its staff, despite the so-called difficult times....

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