Lawmakers object to electricity price hike plan
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Several Kuomintang lawmakers yesterday expressed their objections to an electricity price hike by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) slated for October.
August 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Kuomintang (KMT) caucus yesterday held a meeting, inviting Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), Taipower Chairman Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) and others to discuss price adjustments.
The MOEA said that it will not increase prices for households that use less than 500 kilowatt hours of electricity, meaning that approximately 85.7 percent of households will not be affected.
KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said after the conference that a final decision has yet to be made, but that four lawmakers expressed opposition to the proposal.
Discussions centered on whether or not the government should stop subsidizing industrial and financial institutions as well as households that use a large amount of electricity, Lai said.
Current electricity prices are lower than the actual costs, Lai said, adding that the government tends to subsidize users who consume a large amount of electricity, meaning that the average citizen usually ends up picking up the tab.
Cabinet, Legislature Interaction Problems
The meeting also covered questions on the interactive problems between the Legislature and the Cabinet, Lai said, adding that the relationship between the two should be horizontal rather than vertical.
The Cabinet has a tendency to see the Legislature as a downstream institution, and only tries to persuade lawmakers to support its policies after the policies in question are formed, Lai said.
The Cabinet should try to take the Legislature's position into consideration when communicating with lawmakers and make corresponding changes to its policies, Lai said.
KMT lawmaker Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said that the Cabinet did not approach the Legislature before announcing its decision to increase prices.
Economic Slump, Stagnant Salaries
In light of the economic slump, if commodity prices increase, the standard of living will decrease, while Taiwan's exports will also take a hit, negatively affecting the development of the island's industries, Tsai said, adding that he will not support an increase in electricity prices.
KMT lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said that increasing prices before the economy starts to recover is tantamount to placing a burden on the people, urging the executive branches of government to assess the matter more thoroughly.
Huang said that if the Cabinet persists willfully, she will not exclude the possibility of taking action against the Cabinet when examining its budget in order to reflect the will of the people.
Fellow lawmaker Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that the question is not about an electricity price increase per se, but rather whether or not commodity prices will rise correspondingly.
If salaries remain stagnant while commodity prices rise, what should the people do, Lo asked.
The priority should be placed on solving Taipower's managerial problems first, Lo argued.
Also yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou said that when considering electricity price adjustments, authorities need to select the plan that has the least impact on the people and commodity prices, and also to ensure that disadvantaged groups are protected.
The most important thing is to absolutely avoid using taxes to subsidize users who consume a large amount of electricity, Ma said, according to Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏).
Li said that the president has asked Taipower to respond to public concerns and to explain the actual impact that an electricity price hike will have on the nation's economic growth and commodity prices.