Mon, Nov 05, 2007 - Page 12 News List

State subsidies for utilities hit NT$50 billion, official says

STAFF WRITER

The government has spent more than NT$50 billion (US$1.54 billion) on subsidizing state-run utilities to prevent prices from rising in the face of soaring oil prices, Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said yesterday.

"The government has been keeping a close eye on rising commodity prices, aiming to minimize the impact of rising prices on the public," Chen said while attending an exhibition to showcase the ministry's work over the years.

Chen rejected criticism that the government did not care about the public.

The Cabinet is expected to review its floating oil price mechanism tomorrow.

Chen said that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) was likely to report a net income loss of NT$27.6 billion this year.

The government has prohibited the company from increasing electricity rates for years. If earnings that Taipower could have reported are included, the government has perhaps provided NT$5 billion in subsidies.

In spite of recent fuel price hikes, Chen said that prices of oil fuel, liquid petroleum gas and liquified natural gas for household and business consumption had been frozen since September. The government may also allocate NT$4.2 billion to subsidize state-run CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油).

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