Opposition lawmakers are urging the government to freeze a second-stage electricity price hike scheduled for December, saying that the state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) appears to be posting a profit.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said Taipower did not submit a review of the company’s operations at the end of June as promised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Taipower has asked for another NT$15.46 billion (US$522 million) for electricity purchases, while the total amount budgeted for various forms of bonuses went up by 90 percent, even though the standard annual bonus of 1.5 months’ salary per employee was scrapped, Huang said. It has also budgeted a NT$25,000 “allowance” for each worker. Huang said the company did not implement any major reforms, but continued to give bonuses to its workers. Despite this, she said, it still planned to hike electricity prices on Dec. 10.
On May 9, Taipower announced a three-stage price hike for electricity. The first stage took effect on June 10 for 40 percent of the planned total increase. Another 40 percent increase is scheduled for Dec. 10. The remaining 20 percent of the increase is not expected to take place until the company has streamlined its operations to the government’s satisfaction.
Taipower “treats people like ATM machines,” Huang said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers also demanded that Taipower freeze the rate hikes. DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration have repeatedly talked about reviving the economy, but the best way to achieve that would be to postpone the next stage of rate increases, as well as review the floating oil price mechanism.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said procedures needed to be followed on such proposals.
On Wednesday, Taipower reported a profit of NT$3.9 billion for last month.