President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for the public to understand the financial difficulties faced by the government as it plans to introduce a three-stage increase in electricity rates and promises to reform state-run enterprises in the near future.
“We hope the public will support us so that we can get through this difficult time together. The electricity rate adjustment seeks to reduce the deficit and reflect market costs ... On the other hand, we will also make use of this opportunity to reform state-run enterprises, including personnel and operations,” he said during a visit to a temple in Taipei City.
Ma, accompanied by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), visited the Juexiu Temple in Datung District (大同) to attend celebration marking the temple’s 110th anniversary.
In the wake of the abrupt about-turn in the government’s policy on electricity price rate adjustment, Ma said the delay in the price increase was intended to minimize its impact on the general public and industry.
“Although the new plan will reduce the impact on the public and industry, our goal remains the same ... Taiwan has encountered many difficulties and overcome them every time because we are united. I believe we will overcome this difficulty,” he said.
Ma’s comments came after he announced on Tuesday night that electricity prices will rise by 40 percent of the originally planned adjustment on June 10, followed by a second 40 percent increase on Dec. 10.
The date for the final 20 percent of the price increase will be determined by the level of public satisfaction with reforms undertaken at state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電).
The rates for power consumed at night or during off-peak hours will be reduced from 62 percent of the peak rate to 50 percent, according to the new plan.
The government initially planned to raise electricity rates for all sectors by between 8 percent and 37 percent effective on May 15.
While arguing that electricity prices had to be increased to curb losses at Taipower, Ma reiterated the government’s determination to improve the operation of the state-run enterprise.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs said it has instructed all state-owned enterprises, including Taipower and oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), to cut operational overheads by at least 10 percent this year.