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February 12, 2009

Malaysia to cut power tariffs by 3.7%
Malaysia is to cut electricity prices by an average of 3.7 percent from March 1 as the economy of the Southeast Asian country struggles to boost its competitiveness and fend off a possible recession.

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Shaziman Abu Mansoor was quoted by Reuters as saying Wednesday the measures were also designed to reduce rising energy costs faced by Malaysian households.

"Taking into account the present world economic slump that is impacting the people generally, the ministry has taken proactive measures by suggesting to the government that the electricity tariff adjustments that was scheduled 1 July 2009 be carried forward to 1 March 2009," Shaziman said.

The price of electricity for households is to fall by 2.54 percent on average while industrial users will get a 5 percent reduction, the ministry said.

"Especially for small companies, orders are coming down sharply and (they) need to continue to maintain their workforce. There is a lot of cost to bear and now with this electricity tariff coming off you will give them a sigh of relief," said Lee Heng Guie, economist at CIMB.

The natural gas price for electricity generators will also be cut by 25.2 percent to 10.70 ringgit ($2.97) per million British thermal units (mmBtu) from 14.31 ringgit previously.

"To increase foreign investors confidence, my ministry has agreed that additional gas supplies be given to the industrial sector from the electricity sector to help boost the country's economy," Shaziman told reporters in the Malaysian administrative captial.

Shaziman said the electricity tariffs would be reviewed again on July 1, 2009. Further reviews would be made every six months to allow rates to move in tandem with the international coal and gas prices.

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