Thu, Jan 08, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Transport minister quits over THSRC

OFF THE RAILS:Yeh Kuang-shih resigned after his plan to save the high-speed rail operator from bankruptcy was derailed by the Transportation Committee

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

He added that the plan was meant to allow everyone in the nation to oversee the company and benefit from its operations.

“Unfortunately, many people have misunderstood the plan. Some media outlets and even experts have deliberately obscured the spirit of this plan and said that it was designed to benefit certain private corporations. Personally, I find such accusations unacceptable. Yet based on my belief that government officials should be held responsible for the policies they promote, I thereby hand in my resignation,” he said, apologizing to the public and to coworkers who supported him for failing to meet their expectations.

Yeh left the news conference immediately after his announcement, without commenting on what the government would do to save the high-speed rail system.

At the Legislative Yuan, Yeh said that the ministry would not make any further efforts to push for the financial restructuring plan to pass at the legislature and will prepare to take over the operation of the high-speed rail system.

“Maybe I was incompetent in my handling of this matter,” Yeh said.

“We were hoping that the legislature would approve the financial restructuring plan, because I believe it is the better option for solving THSRC’s financial problems — the government takeover is a solution that produces no winner,” Yeh said.

“Since lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on this issue, we will just have to start preparing for that option [government takeover],” Yeh added.

Yeh said that the ministry will ensure that the high-speed rail system continues to operate.

Asked how he felt about the result being handed down on his birthday, he said that it just so happened that his birthday had coincided with the most important day in the history of Taiwanese transport.

“I believe I will include this process when I write my memoir,” he said.

The ministry also issued a statement urging the company’s main shareholders to take responsibility for solving the problem.

“The company’s main shareholders should make the interests of high-speed rail passengers their top priority and strive to keep the system running before the company and the government complete the remaining procedures based on the contract terms,” the ministry said.

The ministry also denied that the high-speed rail system would generate a profit of NT$800 billion (US$25 billion) if THSRC were given 40 years to operate, saying that the figure represents total revenue income prior to the deduction of costs and taxes.

“Based on our analysis, the company is only set to generate earnings per share of approximately NT$0.66 per year on average, which is a reasonable return on investment over a 59-year period,” the ministry added.

Additional reporting by CNA

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