President pledges to review electricity rate hikes to reduce effect
CNABASSETERRE, St. Kitts and Nevis--President Ma Ying-jeou took time during a state visit Sunday to comment on electricity hikes set for October, saying that Taiwan will review its plans to minimize the impact on the public.
August 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Ma, who is on a visit to South America and the Caribbean, noted that Taiwan's electricity prices remain lower than those of many other countries and do not reflect the high cost of fuel incurred by the government.
The president was speaking at an event in St. Kitts and Nevis, the final leg of his diplomatic trip that also took him to Paraguay, Haiti, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The government announced in May 2012 that it would raise electricity prices in three phases to help offset the heavy losses suffered by state run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower). The first stage took effect on June 10, 2012 and accounted for 40 percent of the planned increases.
The next 40 percent of increases is set for Oct. 1 after being postponed from an earlier date, and there is no definite timetable for implementing the remaining 20 percent of the rate hike.
With the October hikes in effect, electricity bills for industrial companies, businesses and households will go up by about 11 percent, 10 percent and four percent from their current levels, respectively.
Ma also spoke on power infrastructure in St. Kitts and Nevis, noting that Taiwan can help the Caribbean country reduce its high electricity rates with solar energy and other renewable resources.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, the island nation is trying to develop green energy and reduce reliance on coal usage while driving down electricity prices, Ma said.
Taiwan has helped with those efforts by setting up solar panels, solar-powered street lamps and a solar power plant, he noted.
Ma arrived in Basseterre on Sunday morning to a red-carpet welcome with full military honors, where he was greeted by the country's prime minister.
Ma is scheduled to return to Taipei Aug. 21 via Los Angeles. The president will cut short his transit stop in Los Angeles and return to Taiwan early Wednesday on concerns of a tropical storm heading toward Taiwan, according to Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li.