Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 11 News List

MOEA chief downplays dressing down by Hsieh

CABINET TALK Ho Mei-yueh said she wasn't upset by the premier taking her to task for not keeping him up to date on petroleum price hikes and other issues

CNA , TAIPEI

Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said yesterday that an apparent "dressing down" by Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) the previous day did not bother her and that there was nothing in the air about her changing jobs.

Ho made the remarks when she was reporting on the budget of the state-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC, 中油) for this year to the Legislative Yuan's Economics and Energy Committee.

Legislators were more concerned about how the premier took her to task in a Cabinet meeting the previous day for not keeping him informed about the CPC's price hikes on petroleum products on March 10 and Taiwan Fertilizer Co's (台肥) investment project in China.

The government remains the largest shareholder in Taiwan Fertilizer it has worked to privatize over the years. Currently, the Ministry of Economic Affairs owns a 24 percent-stake in Taiwan Fertilizer, giving it four seats on the company's seven-member board.

Last June, the company decided to invest US$13 million in building a fertilizer plant in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province.

Hsieh said that those in the ministry should think deeply about their actions.

Reports said that sour relations between Ho and Hsieh could be traced when she was vice chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development and the premier was mayor of Kaohsiung. The reports also said that Ho's job could be in doubt in a possible Cabinet reshuffle in August.

Hsieh retained most of the members from the previous Cabinet when he assumed the premiership on Feb. 1.

Ho said that prices for petroleum products are subject to free market pressures, and recent surges in oil prices have forced the adjustment of petroleum prices.

Hsieh is worried about changes to the public's lifestyle due to the change in oil and consumer prices, so he had asked her to inform him prior to price hikes.

Ho said that the Executive Yuan had made no such requests before, and the ministry will from now on follow such instructions.

"My feelings are not affected," she said.

In response to reports that she might be shifted to a different Cabinet post, Ho said that Hsieh had said before that there would be a accommodation period between himself and the Cabinet, and that it would be reasonable for a reshuffle in August.

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