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Government to sell NT$38 billion worth of shares in 2014

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government is expected to sell NT$38 billion worth of shares that it currently holds in four large private companies in 2014, which is a NT$24.1 billion reduction from what it originally planned.

The Cabinet's Council of Labor Affairs will be upgraded to the ministry level between May and July this year, and it will be charged with the responsibility to operate a fund worthy of NT$2.4 trillion on behalf of the government.

The new ministry will be operating five major national funds: the Labor Insurance Fund, the Pension Fund, the Employment Insurance Fund, the Employment Security Fund and the National Insurance Fund.

Part of the current fund has been invested in the stock market, holding shares in Chunghwa Telecom (CHT, 中華電信), Mega Holdings (兆豐金), Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫), China Steel (中鋼), Taiwan Fertilizer (台肥) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.(台積電).

The Central Government Special Budget Proposal is currently being deliberated in the Legislative Yuan by legislators across parties. The current deal stipulates that the government will cut the fund by NT$38 billion and dictates that permissible sales of shares be reduced by NT$24.1 billion from the previous proposal.

Today is the last day of deliberation for the Central Government Special Budget Proposal in the Legislature. It is expected that legislators in both parties will decide by ballot on some disagreed-upon issues.

The original proposal stipulates that the fund will sell NT$14.9 billion worth of CHT shares in 2014, but the new deal cuts the figure down to NT$8 billion. In addition, sales of Mega Holdings shares will be cut from NT$9.2 billion to NT$3 billion, from NT$8.5 billion to NT$2.5 billion for China Steel, and from NT$7 billion to NT$2 billion for Taiwan Fertilizer. In total, sales will be reduced by NT$24.1 billion.

Sales of NT$4.5 billion worth of Taiwan Cooperative Bank shares and NT$18 billion worth of TSMC shares will remain unchanged. All in all, the proposal stipulates that the government will sell NT$38 billion worth of shares in 2014.

The government's fund currently holds more than 35 percent of CHT's shares, but legislators believe that 34 percent is the best proportion. In China Steel's case, legislators disagree on whether it is appropriate to reduce its holding from 20 percent to 17 percent.

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