Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of manipulating the legislature’s Economics Committee agenda ahead of today’s scheduled electricity rate hikes, in what they said was an attempt to protect Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) officials from being grilled by lawmakers.
“People are suffering from high prices, and it is our duty to voice their contempt,” DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) told reporters. “It would have been more appropriate to arrange the policy report of the MOEA for today instead of on Wednesday, when the power hikes will have already been implemented.”
The committee passed a resolution in May, demanding the ministry to halt electricity rate hikes before the government proposes a new pricing-mechanism for electricity rates and sends it to the legislature, Su said, adding that raising electricity prices today would go against the resolution.
As of today, electricity rates will be raised by an average 8.49 percent, based on the ministry’s three-stage rate hike plan.
The ministry launched the first stage of the plan in June last year. The second stage was scheduled for December last year, but was postponed until this month amid strong opposition from the public.
KMT Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊英), chairperson of the committee, is responsible for setting the agenda for the committee this week.
However, on Wednesday last week he scheduled a policy report by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) for yesterday ahead of a report by the economics ministry.
However, CEPD Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) was absent from yesterday’s committee because he was attending the Global Economic Symposium in Germany, along with CEPD Deputy Minister Nancy Chen (陳小紅).
Meanwhile, CEPD Deputy Minister Hwang Wang-hsiang (黃萬翔) is on leave this week, meaning CEPD Deputy Minister Chen Chien-liang (陳建良), who took office four months ago, was the only high-ranking council official to attend the committee meeting yesterday.
This further angered DPP legislators, who criticized the council for not showing respect for the committee and demanded Yang adjust the agenda, inviting the ministry to make its policy report immediately.
In response, Yang adjourned the meeting, without processing the motion proposed by the DPP legislators.
The meeting will resume tomorrow, he said.