Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) declined to comment yesterday on media reports that the newly sworn in administration would make a decision this week on the prices of key public utilities.
“It is completely off base to say that the Cabinet will finalize the utility price hike issue this week,” Shih said, adding that the government does not have a timetable for such a plan.
One of the top challenges that Premier Sean Chen’s (陳冲) Cabinet faces is the pressure to increase prices for gasoline, electricity and gas — elements that are closely linked to food prices and inflation.
The government has kept the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) and petroleum company CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 中油), from raising electricity and gasoline prices for various reasons.
Taipower has been financially troubled for years, while CPC said that as of Jan. 29, it was charging NT$3.7 less per liter of gasoline and diesel than it would have if prices were determined by market forces.
The minister also would not respond when he was asked by a reporter whether CPC and Taipower would consider cutting their payrolls to lower their overhead.