Sun, Aug 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Government debates energy tax

BRAIN STORM:The event, a closed-door meeting hosted at the Executive Yuan, heard about the country’s economic ills, as well as a potential new levy

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan, center, and Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang, left, listen to Premier Sean Chen speak at a seminar on Taiwan’s finances in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The government has not yet decided whether to levy an energy tax, Executive Yuan spokesman Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) said yesterday amid concerns that a tax on power use will soon be introduced.

“Levying an energy tax is not yet a policy set in stone,” Hu said at a press conference after a meeting held at the Executive Yuan to discuss energy policies.

Quoting Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), who presided over the three-hour closed-door meeting, Hu said that further evaluations were to focus on “whether energy use efficiency can be improved through taxation.”

Yesterday’s meeting, attended by Cabinet officials and business representatives, was the second of a series of five symposiums to float economy-boosting strategies.

Business groups called on the government to refrain from imposing the tax.

Hu said the government, would take into account several factors before making any decisions such as environmental protection, energy-conservation and carbon dioxide emission reduction, energy policy and tax revenues, the economic situation and consumer prices.

“Its not all about money,” Hu said, brushing aside speculation that the government’s decision to levy the tax is based primarily on generating revenue.

Meanwhile, Chinese National Federation of Industries chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) told a post-meeting press conference that business representatives had suggested a review of the nation’s energy portfolio as well as its energy policies, as suggested by international think tanks, out of a concern over President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) moves to turn Taiwan into a nuclear-free country by steadily reducing reliance on the energy source.

“We all think we should not give up nuclear energy,” Hsu said.

South Korea’s electricity is low-cost by world standards, mainly because nuclear energy is a vital part of its energy portfolio, accounting for 34 percent of national power production, in contrast with Taiwan’s 17 percent said Lawrence Chang (張平沼), chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China.

“If that trend continues, the cost of electricity will seriously retard the development of the country’s economy,” Chang added.

Given the target to steadily reduce nuclear power by decommissioning the country’s three existing nuclear power plants in 2018, 2020 and 2024, the portion of nuclear energy power in the national energy portfolio will decrease, Minister of of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said, adding: “But we can review the policy.”

Chang said that business groups also urged the government to loosen restrictions on solar power plant manufacturers so that they could invest in China to help the local solar industry get through the current economic slump.

“The restrictions were aimed at preventing the outflow of technology to China. However, the rules were outdated. In China, local governments lead efforts to develop solar industry. Its solar energy industry has been growing,” he said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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