Control Yuan enters bonus fray

UNHEEDED::The Control Yuan told the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taipower to correct year-end bonuses to reflect the firm’s losses, but they had not heeded it

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - Page 3

The Control Yuan yesterday said it is studying the possibility of impeaching Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) for allowing state-run enterprises to hand out sizable year-end bonuses to their employees despite operating in the red.

Control Yuan member Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光) said the Control Yuan in September urged the ministry and state-run utility Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) to take corrective measures against rewarding employees with hefty bonuses while posting substantial losses.

Ger said that because the company did not heed the advice, he would ask ministry officials to brief Control Yuan members next month on why corrective action was not taken and how the problem would be resolved. If the situation is not improved by a deadline to be agreed upon, an impeachment case will be filed against Shih and other officials, he said.

The Control Yuan issued its warning after the ministry on Friday announced the year-end bonuses that employees at state-run companies would be collecting this year.

The announcement sparked widespread criticism and even outrage because the bonuses seemed disproportionate to the companies’ results. Despite losing NT$32.4 billion (US$1.12 billion) last year, state-run oil company CPC Corp, Taiwan, is to pay its employees year-end bonuses equivalent to 4.6 times their monthly salary, the ministry said.

Taipower, which ran a deficit of NT$43.3 billion last year, is to distribute bonuses as high as 3.65 times its staff’s monthly wages, while employees at Taiwan Water Corp and Taiwan Sugar Corp are to receive bonuses equivalent to 3.46 and 3.31 times their monthly salaries respectively.

Taipower ran a deficit of NT$74.2 billion in the first eight months of the year and its accumulated yearly losses should exceed NT$200 billion by the end of the month, raising even more skepticism over the propriety of the bonuses.

Shih said that the bonuses were warranted because the companies’ earning capabilities had been limited by policies imposed by the government to keep utility and fuel prices stable. For example, CPC Corp, Taiwan froze prices at the pump for much of last year despite rising international crude prices, which hurt its bottom line.

Liu Ming-chung (劉明忠), the executive director of the State-Owned Enterprise Commission, yesterday said that he would respect the decisions of the Control Yuan and would brief officials on the situation early next year.