Ma takes new tack on electricity rate increase
ROC President Ma Ying-jeou moved to dampen rising public discontent over Taiwanwide electricity price increases May 1, announcing that the changes would be implemented gradually.
“We will introduce the rises in three stages, so as to minimize any possible impact on the public and business sector,” Ma said during a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei City.
“Our policy goal of restoring rates to a reasonable level remains unchanged, but we need to take into consideration the opinions of all parties when implementing the increase.”
Ma’s remarks follow an April 13 decision by the Ministry of Economic Affairs pushing up electricity charges by 10 percent to 37.3 percent effective May 15.
According to the president, 40 percent of the increases will now commence June 10, with another 40 percent six months later. The remaining 20 percent will be decided at a later date.
Under the plan, about 7.56 million households and 300,000 small businesses will see no change in their monthly bills. Price increases for off-peak hour usage will also be cut from 62 percent to 50 percent.
While the president is deeply concerned about the effect of rising prices on society, he said the decision to introduce higher electricity charges is one a responsible administration had to make.
“We import 99.4 percent of our energy and when production cost exceeds selling price, there is no choice but to make adjustments.”
Ma said he has directed the MOEA to run a fine-tooth comb over the operations of state-owned Taipower to identify inefficiency and waste. The utility has come under fire recently for a perceived unwillingness to tighten its belt and adapt to new market realities. (JSM)