Sabah electricity company ‘technically bankrupt’, says its chairman

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) chairman Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau has disclosed that the company is “technically bankrupt” and has had to rely on financial aid from Putrajaya to run.

He said SESB incurred a loss of around 10 sen per unit of electricity supplies as the tariff imposed on consumers in Sabah is at 34 sen per unit, but the generation of power costs 43 sen per unit, The New Straits Times reported yesterday.

“SESB is technically bankrupt, considering that the selling price of electricity to consumers is lower at RM0.34 compared to the purchase or generation cost of RM0.43 per unit of electricity.

“In other words, SESB incurs a loss of nearly RM0.10 per unit of electricity sold to consumers.

“To cover this loss, the federal government provides subsidies, with around RM800 million in subsidies allocated to SESB just last year,” he was quoted as saying.

Madius previously clarified that despite being the state utility firm, SESB does not have the power to raise or approve electricity tariff rates in Sabah due to old laws that put decision-making in the hands of the federal government and enforced by the Energy Commission.

As such, he had welcomed the Sabah State Assembly’s approval two days ago of three Bills that would return regulatory control over electricity to the Sabah government in stages.

The first phase of providing the state with regulatory control of Sabah’s power supply came into effect on January 3 and the second phase that involves SESB will be completed in 2030.

Madius hopes SESB can one day be wholly owned by the state government.

Currently, the Sabah government only owns 17 per cent of shares in SESB; its biggest shareholder is Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

 

 

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