The Executive Yuan said yesterday that Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) should consider cutting the salary of high-ranking officials whose job descriptions do not have anything to do with passenger safety.
During a question-and-answer session with legislators, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the company’s high-ranking foreign technicians should still be entitled to “slightly higher salaries” than their Taiwanese counterparts because Taiwanese officials might be unfamiliar with how to operate the system, but that new THSRC president Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) and his managerial team should bear in mind that the public might react negatively if the company maintained several “fat cats.”
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chih-kuo (毛治國) said the ministry would allow Ou time to deal with the company’s “fat cats,” but that Ou had been given more “flexibility” on the salaries of the company’s foreign managers.
“He should deal with the salaries of Taiwanese officials as soon as possible. He must do so to improve the company’s image,” Mao said.
Ou replaced former THSRC chairwoman Nita Ing (殷琪) on Tuesday, ushering in a new era for the company in which the government would play a dominant role in deciding the company’s boardroom lineup and management.
The company has paid-up capital of NT$105.3 billion (US$3.2 billion), but was reportedly NT$11 billion in the red last year and its accumulated debts amounted to NT$70.2 billion.
Ou said on Thursday that he had to deal with the salary issue to improve the company’s image, but hoped he would be given a year to 18 months to handle the issue.
Mao said, however, that Ou should resolve the matter within a shorter period of time.
Mao said the ministry would help THSRC pay off its debts while helping to find new sources of funding. He promised to make details of the company’s finances public by the end of November.
The premier also vowed to review the salaries of high-ranking officials at other government-funded organizations.
Meanwhile, Wu dismissed media speculation that the government was considering increasing taxes.
Wu said the government would not raise tax rates unless the public reached a consensus on the matter when the economy recovers.
“I’m particularly concerned about the livelihoods of ordinary people,” Wu said.