Tue, May 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Government to discuss privatization plans at conference

BLOOMBERG

The government may reconsider selling shares in state-run companies, including Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), after objections from lawmakers and unions.

An economic conference next month will discuss whether the government should cut its ownership of Taipower to less than 50 percent and sell postal and rail unit stakes, Minister of Finance Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) said at a press briefing.

Some legislators and unions have urged the government to reconsider selling stakes in state-run companies that can help to carry out government policies.

"We're willing to listen to people's different opinions and try to forge a consensus," Lyu said.

The government, which owns 97 percent of Taipower, had planned to reduce its stake in the utility to less than 50 percent by the end of last year and to halve its 100 percent ownership of Taiwan Railway Administration by June next year. It has also said it will eventually sell shares in the postal service.

The sale of Taipower shares was delayed because of lawmakers' demands that 41-year-old electricity laws be revised and the legislature approve any sale.

The laws were enacted when Taipower was the nation's only power company. Today, Taipower generates about 75 percent of the electricity used by the country and has a transmission monopoly.

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