Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - Page 3 News List

TSU calls for probe into state electricity and petroleum firms

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

An investigation by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) into price increases of 23 consumer products has “missed the point,” because Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and CPC Corp, Taiwan were the real catalysts behind the price hikes, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.

“What the commission should do is investigate the two state-run companies, which announced a 10.7 percent increase in [-petroleum-based] fuel prices on April 1 and a planned electricity price rise beginning on May 15,” TSU party whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference.

The recent price increases of various products and services were “by-products” of the fuel and electricity price rises because manufacturers, store owners and service providers need to cope with rising costs, he said.

The commission announced on Wednesday it had launched an investigation into the prices of 23 products, including milk powder, beverages, sugar, petrochemical products, gasoline, automobiles, instant noodles, pork, chicken, eggs, shampoo and alcohol, to monitor potential price-fixing.

Despite Taiwan’s oligopoly oil market, Hsu added, the commission said it was not illegal for privately owned Formosa Petrochemical Corp to follow up with similar increases and there was no concerted price--fixing between the two companies.

Taipower is the sole electricity provider in Taiwan, he added.

“We cannot agree with the findings of the commission’s investigation, which is an impediment to free competition, and we call on the commission to investigate Taipower and CPC’s price cartel,” he said.

Hsu said the TSU demanded the commission complete investigation of the two companies before the end of June.

If the commission could fine local convenience stores for fixing the price of coffee last year and natural gas providers this year, TSU legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said she did not know how it could ignore the two companies’ abuse of their monopolies.

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