Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Legislature to decide on utility fee hikes


The Ministry of Economic Affairs is reviewing plans to raise water and electricity rates, and will submit the proposal to the legislature's next session, Minister Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) told lawmakers yesterday.

The ministry's Water Resources Agency and Taiwan Water Supply Corp (自來水公司), which supplies 80 percent of the country's water, are drafting the price-hike proposal. The proposal will be reviewed by the ministry before the end of the year.

The new rates will come into effect if both the committee and the legislature pass the proposal, but not before the Lunar New Year, an official with the Water Resources Agency said.

Water prices have been fixed for 10 years at about NT$10.77 per cubic meter. Because of financial pressures, water companies are strug-gling to repair old or worn pipes that cause losses of 800 million tonnes of water each year.

The proposed hike in electricity rates stems from the rising cost of fuel since August last year. Taiwan Power Co (台電) has estimated that it would show a NT$9 billion loss next year if no changes are made to current rates.

The new electricity rates will be fixed after taking fuel costs, administration expenses and equipment investment into consideration, Ho said.

Meanwhile, the ministry is also mulling the liberalization of sugar imports next year, as rising sugar prices have resulted in downstream and bakeries hiking their prices..

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