The Ministry of Economic Affairs will publish a comprehensive safety assessment report on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant before August, when a referendum is tentatively set to take place to decide the fate of the controversial plant, the nation’s top economics official said yesterday.
Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said that if the power plant failed to meet safety standards, the ministry would never allow Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) to operate it and a referendum is not needed.
“Basically, we aim to ensure that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant can operate safely, so the purpose for holding a referendum is meaningful,” Chang said at the legislature’s Economics Committee.
In response to rising public concern about the safety of the power plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), Chang reiterated that the ministry has made operational safety its top priority and is conducting various tests to safeguard the nation’s security.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) said the ministry should follow public opinion and abandon construction of the power plant immediately to reduce government expenditure.
In response, Chang said the ministry, as the supervisor of Taipower, was only implementing a project that was approved by the Executive Yuan and the legislature, adding that the ministry has no option but do its job according to schedule.
“We will let the public decide whether to operate the plant,” Chang said.
In response to another question, Chang said he could not promise lawmakers that he would step down if the consumer price index rose above 2.5 percent this year, or if electricity rates are not frozen in October.
“I only have to fulfill my duty as minister of economic affairs. I don’t have to make irresponsible promises,” he said.
Chang also said Taiwan’s talks with Singapore and New Zealand on proposed economic partnership agreements were expected to be completed by the first half of this year.
However, he did not give an exact timetable for the conclusion of the agreements, saying that Taiwan could not make a unilateral announcement because the negotiations involve other parties.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck have promised to solve investment subsidy issues for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Intel Corp, despite the country’s budget woes. Uncertainty over the funding to TSMC and Intel has arisen after a ruling by the German Federal Constitutional Court, which cast doubt over subsidies for construction of local semiconductor chip plants. On Nov. 15, the court ruled that the German government’s decision last year to reallocate 60 billion euros (US$65.74 billion) of unused funding from COVID-19 pandemic support measures to its Climate and Transformation Fund
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