Operators of private nurseries and kindergartens yesterday called on the government to freeze electricity prices for their facilities, saying they are suffering from a price hike that took effect on July 1.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs raised electricity rates 15 percent for large industrial consumers. While residential users consuming less than 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month have not seen their bills rise, those who consume more than that amount have seen their rates increase 9 percent for each additional kWh consumed.
However, the government has frozen electricity rates for elementary, junior-high and high schools, as well as major users in six sectors closely related to people’s daily lives: food processing, farms, fisheries, department stores, movie theaters and gyms.
Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times
The operators of private nurseries and kindergartens yesterday at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan said they should be included on the list so that they could “maintain the quality of early childhood education.”
They were accompanied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers.
National Kindergarten and Childcare Federation chairwoman Liu Chiu-fang (劉秋芳) criticized the exclusion, saying that private nurseries and kindergartens adhered to government policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most nurseries and kindergartens face monthly electricity bills of almost NT$100,000, she said, adding that the price hike placed a heavy burden on the operators.
Chinese Early Childhood Education Association chairman Su Chuan-chen (蘇傳臣) questioned the reason for the exclusion, saying it “lacked logic and reasonable grounds.”
Talent Developing Association of ROC chairman Chen He-shun (陳和順) said the number of students in private nurseries and kindergartens is far higher than those in junior-high and high schools, adding that they require more intensive care and a comfortable learning environment.
Childcare Association of ROC chairman Liu Shang-wei (劉上維) said the government vowed to provide every public school classroom with free air-conditioning, but imposed a 15 percent price hike on private nurseries and kindergartens.
KMT Legislator Wu I-ding (吳怡玎) said that the private institutions must pay teachers’ salaries and keep the lights and air-conditioning on, even if only one student is in the classroom.
Any plan to raise tuition fees needs to be approved by the Ministry of Education, she said, adding that the government is asking too much of the operators.
KMT caucus whip Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) said the Ministry of Economic Affairs should freeze electricity prices for the establishments retroactively from July 1.
If it is unable to do so, it should subsidize electricity bills of the operators, he added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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