Sun, May 04, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Frozen fuel prices force poor to share unfair cost: Siew

STAFF REPORTER , By Mo Yan-Chih

Vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) condemned the government for freezing gasoline and utility prices and forcing the poor to share the cost of those who consume more petroleum and said the new administration will adopt a different fuel policy after May 20.

Siew’s remarks echoed those of premier-designate Liu Chao-shiuan’s (劉兆玄) comments made in an interview on Thursday that the new administration would raise fuel prices immediately after taking office.

“On the surface, everyone enjoyed low gasoline and utility prices, but actually the policy benefited those who consume more petroleum. Such a measure is against social justice and it’s unfair,” Siew said yesterday when addressing an economic forum at Taipei International Convention Center.

Utility prices have been frozen since November last year, despite the rise in international crude oil prices, and the Cabinet said it would maintain the price freeze until it hands over power to the new government.

Siew promised to carry out a comprehensive social welfare policy, and give subsidies to low-income families in response to the upcoming gas and utility price hike.

The vice president-elect said that economic growth would not be the only goal of the new administration, as the nation was already a mature economic entity, adding that seeking social justice and substantial development would also be priorities while the new administration carries out its economic policies.

Siew promised to narrow the income gap between the rich and the poor by reviewing the tax policy.

Under president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Siews’ economic platform, the new administration will introduce a tax relief plan that would include tax refunds for low-income families whose annual income was under NT$480,000.

Families with annual incomes of NT$360,000 or less do not pay tax. Such families would also receive a subsidy that equals 13 percent of their annual income, or up to NT$46,800, per year under his proposal.

Siew said the new government would also encourage companies to create their own brands and cultivate talent, and would attract international companies to invest in local businesses in Taiwan.

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