Sat, Apr 14, 2012 - Page 1 News List

KMT votes down challenge to power charge increase

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Members of opposition parties gather on the legislative floor in Taipei yesterday holding up banners demanding that the president report to the legislature on the state of the nation and saying that refusing to do so would be to go against public opinion.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday voted down both a motion initiated by opposition parties inviting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to deliver a national report to the legislature as well as a proposal to reject the policy decision to increase electricity rates which Ma supports.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the People First Party (PFP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) asked for a vote during a plenary session on a motion asking Ma to brief lawmakers on recent policies that have caused widespread public anger and answers questions from lawmakers, after the proposal was blocked by the KMT at the legislature’s Procedure Committee on Tuesday.

Holding up posters on the floor of the chamber, opposition lawmakers said that Ma should report to the legislature as a matter of course and urged the president not to ignore lawmakers when “people are destitute.”

The motion was voted down by a vote 51 to 39. Seven lawmakers from the opposition camp did not show up for the vote.

“What on the earth is Ma Ying-jeou afraid of? Why is he too scared to come to the legislature? It is his constitutional responsibility,” DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said at a press conference after the vote.

Opposition parties said that since being re-elected on Jan. 14, Ma has failed to address the public to assuage concerns over issues ranging from a plan to ease a ban on imports of US beef containing the feed additive ractopamine, to gas and electricity price rises.

Meanwhile, KMT lawmakers voted down a proposal from the opposition parties aimed at overriding plans announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Thursday to raise electricity rates for all sectors by between 8 percent and 37 percent.

Citing Article 20 of the Administrative Act of State-owned Enterprises (國營事業管理法), PFP Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said the price-determining mechanism adopted by the ministry was in violation of established regulations.

The article stipulates that the rate charged by public utilities must be calculated in accordance with a formula prepared either by the state-owned enterprise or the relevant government department and that any changes to such formulas needed to be approved by the legislature.

“We demand that the government not go ahead with its promulgation of the new electricity prices on May 15. To implement the new rates as scheduled without the consent of the legislature, as announced by the ministry on Thursday, would be illegal,” Lee said.

Other legislators expressed discontent with the turn of events.

The proposal was made out of concern that the electricity price rise of more than 15 percent along with the fuel price increase announced earlier this month could trigger inflation, Pan said.

While Ma said during his visit to three diplomatic allies in Africa that the price paid by households that consume less than 120 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would not increase, that comment “was a bad joke,” DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said.

Ma did not know what he was talking about, because the average monthly consumption of a refrigerator is about 75 kilowatt-hours and almost no households consume less than 120 kilowatt-hours a month, Chen said, adding that all households would have to pay at least an additional NT$105 each month after the pricing adjustment.

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