Fri, Apr 05, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Government says they're investors in rail project

CNA , TAIPEI

The government is investing in, and not funding, the high speed rail project, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Lin-san (林陵三) said yesterday at the Legislative Yuan.

In reply to an interpellation by PFP legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪), Lin said that the government has not changed the BOT (build-operate-transfer) arrangement with the private sector.

Stressing that the government will not take over the implementation of the project from the private sector, Lin said that the high speed rail project is important to the development and prosperity of the West Corridor of the island.

With an average speed in excess of 200km per hour during normal operations, the high-speed-rail system will be capable of carrying over 300,000 passengers in a single day of operation, according to the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵).

Legislators in the past two days have raised the question of suspected government funding of the high-speed-rail project, which is being undertaken by the THSRG.

Lee said that the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development helped the THSRG secure a long-term loan from a syndicate of banks.

Besides, the government-owned Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) and the Development Fund (開發基金) under the Executive Yuan were directed to invest NT$5 billion and NT$3 billion respectively in the project, he added.

Before the commencing of the project in March 2000, the THSRC secured NT$323 billion in credit in August 1999 via signing the Tripartie Agreement and the Credit Syndicate Contracts with a syndicate of 25 local banks, including the Chiao Tung Bank (交通銀行), the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), and the International Commercial Bank of China (中國商銀).

Reporting at the Legislative Yuan, Liao Ching-lung (廖慶隆), director-general of the Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail, said that construction is well under way. The THSRC has raised NT$50 billion from investors, he said.

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