Sat, Aug 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Government indifferent to public: KMT

‘TERRIFYING’:KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei questioned the legitimacy of a proposed water price hike, as state-run Taiwan Water made NT$1.8 billion in profit in the first half

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Te-fu, center, and KMT caucus vice secretaries-general Wang Hui-mei, left, and Chiang Wan-an speak at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday said the government was indifferent to the public’s suffering, citing the strain on the nation’s electricity supply that only started easing on Wednesday, the same day state-run Taiwan Water Corp announced it aims to raise water prices next year.

Taiwan Water president Kuo Chun-ming (郭俊銘) on Wednesday said the company would submit a plan to raise the cost of water to the Ministry of Economic Affairs for review next month.

The company is considering introducing two sets of water rates — one for dry periods and the other for rainy periods — and refining its four-level classification of users by dividing them into seven tiers according to their monthly water consumption and the reservoir from which their water is drawn, with the scope of price hikes to be proportional to the amount of water consumed each month, Kuo said.

KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) yesterday said people’s lives have been made more difficult by the electricity shortfall over the past week and the rising cost of living caused by increased personnel costs due to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “one fixed day off, one flexible rest day” labor policy.

Raising the cost of water will further drive up the cost of living, making people’s lives even tougher amid stagnant wages, Lin said, adding that larger water bills, compounded by unstable water and electricity supply, might drive away businesses planning to establish factories in the nation.

The proposed price hike shows that the Tsai administration is insulated from the ordeals faced by ordinary people and demonstrates its failure to empathize with — much less respond to — their anguish, he said.

“First they told people to turn off their air-conditioners. Now, they want to raise water prices,” KMT caucus vice secretary-general Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) said. “Is punishing people the only thing the Tsai administration can do well?”

The nation is blessed with abundant rainfall, but heavy sedimentation in reservoirs and flimsy water pipes — which according to Taiwan Water leak 16 percent of total water supplies — hamper the supply of water, she said.

She panned Taiwan Water’s proposal to hike prices when the government has not addressed the root causes of water shortfalls.

Wang questioned the legitimacy of the proposed price hike, saying that Taiwan Water last year overcame its deficiencies and had accumulated profit of NT$1.8 billion (US$59.3 million) as of June.

“A flawed policy is even more terrifying than corruption,” KMT caucus vice secretary-general Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said.

The Cabinet has allocated a budget of NT$25.7 billion under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program for water-related projects, including the stabilization of water supplies, he said.

“What the Tsai administration did not tell the public was: Even after spending all that money, it is still going to raise water prices,” Chiang said.

Additional reporting by Yang Mien-chieh

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