Fri, Mar 01, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Tech leaders take officials to task for leaving firms thirsty

STAFF WRITER

Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung (宗才怡) got an earful from angry business leaders from Taiwan's top technology park yesterday. The irate executives asserted that authorities have for years paid only lip service to solving the park's water shortage problem.

A scarcity of water has plagued high-tech companies in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區) for years -- and the authorities always wait for the problem to become a crisis before doing something about it, said Huang Yen-chun (黃彥群), vice president of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), yesterday.

Tsung met with over a dozen top company officials yesterday morning and assured them that the water-shortage problem would be resolved through a water diversion project.

But several high-tech executives said water-supply problems were only the most recent headache and that inadequate infrastructure in the area also threatened their operations.

Power outages in the park have shut down production dozens of times over the last two years.

Huang said that the government had planned to increase the water supply to the park through a pipeline linked to the Feitsui Reservoir in Taipei County, but that it recently learned that one section of that pipeline has not been finished.

Hu Chu-ching (胡竹青), vice president of Phoenix Precision Technology Corp (全懋科技), complained water prices have soared so high that water is now more expensive than gasoline.

"Currently, the price for gasoline is about NT$17 per liter, while water is about NT$22 per liter," Hu said. "How does the government expect companies to keep their `roots' in Taiwan?"

Firms in the park also face rising water transport fees, which have jumped by two-thirds in the last few days.

"Fees were about NT$3,000 per truck last week but were raised to NT$5,000 recently," Hu said. "I heard that fees may jump to NT$7,000 in the near future."

"It is not just the Hsinchu science park that has this kind of problem, the Tainan science park will also face the same problem in the future," Hu said.

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