Monday 23 July 2012

'Seda's pricey ad blitz lacks answers'

Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) spent thousands of tax money on newspaper advertisements but has still failed to answer questions by the public, said Petaling Jaya parliamentarian Tony Pua.

At a joint press conference with Lembah Pantai parliamentarian Nurul Izzah Anwar this morning, Pua said the advertisements instead leave more questions than answers.

azlan"Seda spent tens of thousands of ringgit to publish a response to our queries over the suspicious award of Feed-in Approval (FiA) Holders for solar energy yet failed to answer the key questions posed," he said.

According to Pua, the advertorial were published in most English and Malay language dailies including The Star and Harian Metro yesterday. A similar statement by Seda was also sent to the press last Friday.
NONEAdding on, Nurul Izzah (right) noted that that Seda chairperson Fong Chan Onn had, when threatening to sue her and Pua, also offered the possibility of meeting the duo to clarify the matter.

“Considering his very extensive advertorial that did not answer our questions, we ask that Fong and if possible with the assistance of Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui, meet with us in a tranparent manner on all these questions raised,” she said.

Chipping in, Pua added that even though Fong was mulling legal action, Pakatan had only raised the issue because it had received several complaints from industry players.

“Or else we would not have done it, Seda is not the most interesting thing,” he quipped.

Pua had on July 10 revealed that eight of 12 companies controlled by former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan’s daughter Suzi Suliana that received the FiA only had a paid-up capital of RM100 and were set up 21 days prior to the FiT application deadline.

In responding to allegations the companies approved lacked experience, Seda had explained that it did not set minimum conditions for paid up capital or experience as the renewable energy industry was fairly new and the companies had no way of knowing if they would succeed in the tender.

‘Seda contradicting its own forms’

To this, Pua said: “The statement comes as a complete shock as the application form (for FiT) very specifically states that the companies must have secured financing for the project.

“In fact, the form states that the applicant's bank account statement must show ‘a credit balance of at least 20 percent of the total capital cost of the renewable energy installation’.”

He explained that based on the 32.4 percent solar energy quota which translates to 45.9 megawatt (MW) obtained by Suzi’s companies which, they should have at least have a total of RM73 million to fulfil the 20 percent credit balance requirement for the application.

“By right the applications should have been rejected. If Seda wanted to give leeway, then the companies should have topped-up their paid-up capital by now,” he said.

However, Pua said a check with the Companies Commission two weeks ago on some of the said companies still showed that they had a paid-up capital of RM100.

In addition, there was also another rule which would require the companies to have a minimum paid-up capital of RM200,000 once they are granted the FiA, but their Companies Commission’s documents show otherwise.

‘Two wrongs do not make a right’

Pua also blasted Seda’s explanation that Suzi and her husband Todd Michael Morath’s companies were not the only ones that had won more than one FiT contracts through multiple companies.

“The fact that other companies got away with multiple licences does not in any way absolve Seda of its award of 32.4 percent of the solar energy quota to 12 companies owned by Suzi Suliana and her business partners” he said.

This, he added, was an admission by Seda that it had failed to curb monopoly and protect “the need for fair competition and transparency” in the FiT system as specified in the Renewable Energy Act.

“The reason why a cap of 5MW was set for each company was to ensure as many companies as possible have the opportunity to participate in the programme.

“By allowing Suzi and her business partners to circumvent the rules by setting up more than a dozen companies to secure the FiA, Seda has either proven itself negligent and incompetent, or worse, acted in collusion with the applicants to monopolise the quota,” he said.

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