President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should apologize to the public for what he called a misjudgement of oil-price trends, which resulted in an irreversible increase in retail prices, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday.
Ma admitted on Wednesday for the first time since fuel prices were raised on April 2 that his administration had “misjudged the global oil-price trends.”
“Ma would not be able to evade his responsibility simply by saying that his decision to raise fuel prices was based on misleading information provided by [state-run oil refiner] CPC Corp, Taiwan [CPC],” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.
It was Ma who hand-picked the final policy from three proposals, which raised the fuel price by NT$3.1 (US$0.1) per liter, Pan said, adding that Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) should also be held accountable and should step down.
“While the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] tried to protect Ma by saying that the president was misled by CPC, we argue that it was Ma who has misled the Taiwanese people — on April Fools’ Day,” Pan said.
Pan reiterated the DPP caucus’ demands that fuel prices be lowered to their pre-April levels and electricity prices frozen.
The crude oil price reached its highest level this year on March 14, at US$124.22 per barrel, before falling to the present US$95 per barrel, he said, adding that the oil price had fallen by 3.1 percent before April 1, when the policy was announced.
Regardless of who — advisers at the Presidential Office or the ministry — made the wrong assessment of the Middle East situation and oil price trends, Ma should be responsible for the ill-advised policy which has made people suffer under rising retail prices, he said.
A CPC press release issued on Monday stated that global oil prices went up for six consecutive weeks between February and March, which formed the basis of Ma’s policy, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
“What it didn’t mention in the statement was that the oil price began to fall on March 20 — 10 days before the policy was announced,” she said.
In terms of electricity prices, Chen said that since international fuel prices, including for coal and liquefied natural gas, are down 20 percent since March, “the urgency to raise electricity prices is no longer there.”
DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) urged Ma to immediately call off the planned electricity price increase, to prevent further public grievances.
Separately, DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday also urged the Ma administration to halt the planned electricity price increase, which would take effect on Sunday.
Lin said he made the appeal because international fuel prices have dropped 20 percent and state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has pledged to suspend its NT$100 billion expansion plan in the next five years, while lowering reserve capacity rates from more than 20 percent to 15 percent.
“Taipower’s profit and loss would have to be reviewed again to access the necessity of raising electricity prices,” Lin said.