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Lawmakers urge delay in first stage of electricity rate hikes

Lawmakers urge delay in first stage of electricity rate hikes

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) In the face of regularly scheduled electricity rate increases in view of higher summer demand, lawmakers urged the government Wednesday to delay the first stage of an additional three-stage hike until after the summer peak usage period. President Ma Ying-jeou announced the government's revised policy late the previous day in a televised speech in which he said his administration had decided to introduce controversial power rate hikes in three stages rather than all at once as had been originally planned. Under the plan, the government will implement electricity rate hikes in three stages, with the first and second beginning June 10 and Dec. 10, respectively, while the third stage will depend on reform efforts by the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower). Lawmakers of both the ruling and opposition parties expressed concern that consumers might face two consecutive rounds of inflation in a short period, as the scheduled first-stage hike falls in the same month as the regular summer increase. "Some people have told me that the new three-phase policy is like prolonging the torture of the public," Kuomintang Legislator Lee Ching-hua said at a hearing at the Legislative Yuan. Lee, along with other legislators, also urged the Ma administration to apologize to the public for the policy decision and the government's reduced credibility. In response, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said the reason the government chose to implement the first hike June 10 is because Taipower will need time to process the adjustment and because the policy can only take effect one month after the announcement. Meanwhile, Taipower Chairman Edward Chen said that households using less than 330 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will not be subject to the rate increase, which means that some 6.15 million households will not be affected. According to the plan, the electricity rates for the first two stages will rise a combined 9 percent, 21 percent and 27 percent, on average for households, shop operators and industry, respectively, according to the ministry. The originally planned one-time electricity hike was 29.6 percent. (By James Lee)


Updated : 2021-05-06 22:12 GMT+08:00