Former deputy minister of economic affairs Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) yesterday took over as chairman of state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 中油), with a brief protest disrupting the handover ceremony as workers railed against a government plan to privatize the company in 2014.
A group of CPC labor union members took to the stage before the ceremony officially started, pouring ink, unfurling banners and chanting slogans against the privatization plan. They were dragged off the stage by several company officials.
Faced with the opposition, Lin said that privatization would take time. He promised to listen to different voices and strive to reach a consensus through internal communication.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said earlier that the ministry would submit the privatization plan to the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan for approval before the end of 2014.
Asked about the timeframe, Shih said that within three years or four years after the privatization plan is approved by the legislature, CPC would release 51 percent of its shares and the government would keep the remaining 49 percent.
Lin is taking over at a difficult time, with the public demanding that the state-run refiner, along with state-run electricity provider Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), improve its management efficiency and cut losses. Former Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) was appointed Taipower chairman in May.
The two companies have come under fire since early this year, when they announced price increases to cover their operating losses. Fuel prices were raised in April, while electricity rates followed last month.
Lin said CPC has oil exploration operations in seven countries and 21 mining areas and he would expand this business during his tenure to boost the company’s income.
He added that he would follow the measures recommended by a ministry-led task force to improve company operations and reach its goal of earning NT$44.2 billion (US$149.7 million) and saving NT$16.8 billion in costs for CPC in the next five years.