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June 23, 2017

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Taipower bonuses conform to the law: Duh

Amid rising public outrage over the government's decision to pay Taipower (台電) employees a generous annual bonus of 3.6 months' worth of wages while the company reported mounting losses of NT$17.8 billion over 2013, newly appointed Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) yesterday defended the move by stating that the burden of policy must be factored into the performance of state-run enterprises.

Duh yesterday stated that state-run enterprises are often unable to perform optimally as they are tasked with bearing the burden as stipulated by government policies, an explanation often repeated by officials when generous bonuses are doled out to employees of poorly performing state-run enterprises.

In Taipower's case, the company is unable to initiate price hikes on energy according to fluctuation of fuel prices in the international markets, explained Duh, adding that the state-run energy company is required to extend subsidies to residents of rural areas and disadvantaged groups. In addition, the company needs also to provide more costly energy to residents of Taiwan's offshore islands at the same price as seen on the main island, which is estimated to represent a loss of NT$5.8 billion. There are many factors affecting the performance of state-run enterprises that remain unknown to the public, said Duh.

Duh maintained that the bonus payments conform to the law, and that the Ministry of Economic Affairs is obliged to carry out decisions of the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan.

Duh added that compensation at state-run enterprises may not be as generous as the public perceives. Duh noted that starting salaries of the 866 positions open to the public at state-run enterprises including Taipower, Taiwan Sugar Co. (台糖), CPC Co. (中油), and the Taiwan Water Co. (台水) fall at a range between NT$35,000 and NT$38,000 monthly, in line with private sector averages. In addition, no-shows at state-run enterprises' employment examinations have been on the rise in recent years, said Duh, implying that government jobs have been losing their allure among the public.

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